Division Announcements

Megan Baldridge, MD, PhD, receives 2017 Young Investigator Grant from Global Probiotics Council.

The Global Probiotics Council (GPC), a committee formed by Danone Nutricia Research and YAKULT HONSHA CO., LTD., announced the three recipients of the tenth annual Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research (YIGPRO) today. The program was created to contribute to the advancement of probiotics and gastrointestinal microbiota research in the United States.  This year’s grant focus is to improve understanding of the mechanisms by which dietary and nutritional approaches impact the gut microbiota to improve physiological function and health status.

“A key goal of the YIGPRO grant program is to provide young investigators with funds to help support promising new careers in the quickly evolving field of microbiota and probiotics research,” said Dr. Gerard Denariaz, Strategic Partnerships and Prospective Director at Danone Nutricia Research.

These grants mark the tenth year of the grant program. “We are pleased to see the awardees approach this exciting field of science in such an innovative and collaborative manner,” said Fumiyasu Ishikawa, Director of Yakult Central Institute. “They are making an outstanding contribution to the field”.

The 2017 winners will explore how a healthy gut might act to reduce infection and improve immune status in the malnourished, and impact metabolic function by interacting with dietary fibers.  The three winners are: Luther Bartelt, MD, Megan Baldride, MD, PhD, and Amanda Ramer-Tait, PhD.

Megan Baldridge, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Her project is titled “Nutritional modulation of the commensal microbiome and intestinal antiviral immunity.” Using a mouse model, she will focus on determining how protein malnutrition alters the bacterial communities in the gut, leading to reduced immune function. This study will help to explain how protein malnutrition leads to increased intestinal infections in malnourished children in developing countries.

Luther Bartelt, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His project is titled “Investigating microbial-mediated bile acid metabolism influences on growth, intestinal permeability, and susceptibility to infection during malnutrition.” For this project, Dr. Bartelt will focus on determining how bacteria in the small intestine can influence nutrient absorption and prevent infection during nutrient-deficient conditions. This represents a major mechanistic problem with protein malnutrition in children throughout the developing world.

Amanda Ramer-Tait, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a member of the Nebraska Food for Health Center. Dr. Ramer-Tait’s project is titled “Microbial Interactions for Control of Metabolic Health.” In this study, she will determine how bacteria in the intestines interact with dietary fibers in the diet to improve metabolic health. The initial studies will be done in animal models, but eventually carried into clinical trials.

“The Selection Committee continues to be extremely enthused about the proposals received from excellent candidates,” said Dr. Allan Walker, Chair of the Committee. “The YIGPRO program has made a significant contribution to the field of probiotic and microbiota research over the past decade, in addition to supporting many outstanding young researchers.”

A rigorous review of all the applications was provided by the U.S. Probiotics Scientific Board Selection Committee, which is comprised of:  W. Allan Walker, MD, Conrad Taff Professor of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, Richard Guerrant, MD, Director, Center for Global Health, University of Virginia School of Medicine, James Kaper, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Todd Klaenhammer, PhD, Distinguished University Professor & William Neal Reynolds Professor, North Carolina State University, and Balfour Sartor, MD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Global Probiotics Council will provide $50,000 over the course of one year to all three recipients and their respective institutions.

Additional details and future announcements on the Young Investigators Grant for Probiotics Research program and their respective institutions can be found at here.