Dr. Hans Verstraelen
Vulvovaginal Disease Specialist and Professor of Gynecology & Obstetrics (Ghent University), Belgium

Dr. Hans Verstraelen is a Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics and a vulvovaginal disease specialist at Ghent University, Belgium. Trained as an epidemiologist with special interest in public health, he devoted much of his research career to the study of the female genital tract microbiome and its wider impact on reproductive health. He initiated a number of research projects on the vaginal microbiome before the advent of next-generation sequencing techniques, which, for instance led, to the initial discovery of Atopobium vaginae as a predominant taxon associated with dysbiotic vaginal microbiota and of Lactobacillus crispatus as the most favourable vaginal symbiont associated with eubiotic vaginal microbiota. Through collaboration with Berlin-based gastro-enterologist Alexander Swidsinski, he further elaborated on vaginal biofilm formation in the setting of bacterial vaginosis. Recently, he reported on the contentious issue of an endometrial microbiome in several studies. He is also involved in clinical trials aiming at modulating the vaginal microbiome and is the inventor of a novel DL-lactic acid slow release intravaginal device. As a clinician, Dr. Verstraelen is in charge of the Ghent University Vulvovaginal Disease Clinic, which is a tertiary referral unit for women with chronic or intractable conditions of the vulva and vagina. He was honoured with the 2007 award of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine for Gynaecology and Obstetrics and with the 2010 International Club of Flanders PhD award for his vaginal microbiome research.

University of Ghent HospitalPublications
Dr. Erika Isolauri
Professor of Pediatrics, Chief Physician in Department of Paediatrics, and Head of the Department of Clinical Medicine (University of Turku, Finland

Dr Isolauri has received Academic Honours from University of Tampere, Finland; the John Harris Prize from European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition; the Niilo Hallman price from the Foundation for Paediatric Research, Finland; an award from Institut Candia 1993 (France) and International Award for Modern Nutrition, Swiss Central Nutrition Association. In 2010 she received the The IDF Elie Metchnikoff Prize 2010 in the category Nutrition and Health (together with Professor Seppo Salminen). In 2016, she received the Matti Äyräpää Award from The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim. She has supervised 23 doctoral theses (PhD) and acted as Opponent at the University of Helsinki and the University of Tampere, Finland; Université Paris XI, France, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and Wageningen Unversity, The Netherlands. Her Major Research Interests are: Gastroenterology, food allergy; Nutrition and Immunology. She is the leader of the Nutrition, Allergy, Mucosal Immunology and Intestinal Microbiota (NAMI) programme. Author of 426 scientific publications, she has written 255 original publications, 107 Review articles/ Chapters in books and 64 Scientific articles in Finnish. In addition she has 160 Invited Lectures in International Academic Meetings. H-index 77 (April 15, 2016).

University of TurkuResearchGate
Dr. Noel Mueller
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA

Noel Mueller is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He obtained his Ph.D. and M.P.H. from the University of Minnesota, and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center. His research focuses on metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and lately he has been involved in studying on how factors that alter the maternal-offspring transmission of bacteria influence offspring risk of childhood obesity. He has a broad background in conducting epidemiologic research in multiethnic populations, and has published over 25 articles and a book chapter. Among his latest work is a paper that suggests that mothers may transmit obesity risk to their children through sharing of bacteria during vaginal birth.

PublicationsJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthLinkedIn Profile
Dr. Camilla Urbaniak
Postdoc, Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research, Canada

Camilla Urbaniak recently completed her PhD at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. Her project examined the microbial communities in breast milk and tissue and how perturbations of this microbiota could affect maternal and neonatal health. Her work forms the platform for future studies, looking at whether probiotics and/or prebiotics could be used to manipulate this microbiome, to ensure optimal health. Camilla has a strong interest in how early life factors shape the neonatal microbiome and whether the acquisition of certain bacterial communities (or lack thereof) may enhance the risk of developing certain diseases later in life.

Dr. Gregor Reid
Professor and Endowed Chair of Lawson Institute, Canada

Dr. Gregor Reid is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Surgery at Western University and has an Endowed Chair in Human Microbiome and Probiotics at the Lawson Health Research Institute. Having been a pioneer of probiotic research and the study of microbes in the urogenital tract of women, his research has expanded to studies of the gut, breast, heart and use of probiotics to detoxify environmental pollutants. He helped set up Western Heads East and other projects in Africa where local 'yogurt mamas' produce probiotic yogurt for communities. He has been awarded 28 patents, and published 444 peer-reviewed publications, including Lancet, JAMA, PNAS, PLoS One, Nature and Nature Reviews Microbiology, and has given 550 talks in 53 countries. Dr. Reid has been Chair of the United Nations - World Health Organization Expert Panel and Working Group on Probiotics; and past-President of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. He has received numerous awards, including the 2010 Hellmuth Prize, the highest research honour conferred by Western University, and the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award at Massey University, in 2011.

University of Western OntarioLawson InstitutePulications
Toni Harman
Independant Film Maker, UK

A graduate from London Film School, Toni Harman is a British documentary filmmaker. Her credits as Producer / Director include the award-winning documentary MICROBIRTH (2014, 60 mins) about the origins of the human microbiome, FREEDOM FOR BIRTH (2012, 60 mins) about the struggle for women's rights in childbirth and DOULA! (60 mins, 2010) about professional birth companions. Toni is also the co-author of the book, THE MICROBIOME EFFECT (2016, Pinter & Martin). Toni is currently working on a new cross-media project including her next feature documentary bringing the latest science to consumers about how to turbo-charge the power of the microbiome through adjustments to diet, lifestyle and supplement intake.

MICROBIRTHFreedom for BirthBook: The Microbiome Effect
Dr. Mónica Olivares
Head of Research & Development, Biosearch Life, Spain

Dr. Mónica Olivares Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Granada (Spain). Performs doctoral thesis on molecular biology in a research center of the Spanish National Research Council (Spanish: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC). In 2001, she joined the Research Department of Biosearch Life and heads the Research Department of the company since 2011. She is specialized in probiotic strains isolated from human milk and author of more than 35 scientific publications related with probiotics. Especially noteworthy the studies related to the application of probiotic strains in the treatment and prevention of lactational mastitis as well as babies studies showing the benefits of probiotic strains naturally present in breast milk. She is also listed as inventor in three patents about probiotics.

Biosearch LifeLinkedIn
Anna Christine Darling
Marketing Director, Ecovag® Business Unit, Bifodan A/S, Denmark

For almost 10 years, Anna Christine Darling has been working with product management and scientific support with emphasis on evidence-based probiotics for gastrointestinal and women’s intimate health. Notably, probiotics for women’s intimate health has her professional interest and in her current position she is working dedicated for reinforcing the clinical and scientific platform of Ecovag®. This includes both the existing areas of use, in which particular bacterial vaginosis has been well documented, but also emerging new areas of use with great potential. She is working closely with Bifodan’s internal and external scientific network and with the company’s partners for the product.

Bifodan A/SLinkedIn
Dr. Saskia van Hemert
Senior Scientist, Fundamental Innovations, Winclove Probiotics, The Netherlands

Dr. van Hemert holds a PhD in host-microbe interactions, obtained at Wageningen University in 2007. After a Post-doc at the Top Institute Food&Nutrition, she joined Winclove Probiotics in 2009. Currently she is working as a senior scientist with a focus on host-microbe interactions. Current research interests include allergy, gastrointestinal disorders and the gut-brain axis. She has been involved in multiple research collaborations with different academic partners. These projects aim to gain more knowledge on working mechanisms of probiotics and to gather clinical evidence for the indication specific multispecies probiotic formulations of Winclove Probiotics. The Panda project (probiotics and allergy) has resulted in the development of the probiotic formulation Ecologic® PANDA with proven effectiveness to prevent eczema in babies and young children.

Winclove ProbioticsLinkedIn