Conference Speakers

March 6-7th, 2019

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Emma Allen-Vercoe - PhD

Professor Molecular and Cellular Biology at the university of Guelph, Canada

Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe serves as a scientific advisor to N of One: Autism Research Foundation and is part of N of One’s Microbiome team. Dr. Vercoe is an associate professor at the University of Guelph in Canada. Dr. Vercoe is leader in the human gut microbiome and has led investigations into its role in human disease and autism. Dr. Vercoe is an international lecturer on the microbiome and proponent of the view that the microbiome works together as a community to exist and perform tasks. Dr. Vercoe has an international reputation for being able to culture previously ‘unculturable’ anaerobic microbes in order to better understand their biology. To do this, she developed a model gut system (dubbed ‘Robogut’) to emulate the conditions of the human gut and allow communities of microbes to grow together, as they do naturally and study it as a working ecosystem. While many researchers emphasis the presence of absence of certain species, Dr. Vercoe’s work focuses on the functional metabolic capacity of the community rather than its specific constituents. Dr. Vercoe obtained her BSc (Hons) in biochemistry in 1993 from the University of London, and her PhD in molecular microbiology through an industrial partnership with the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, conferred through the Open University in 1999. She moved her lab and this system to the University of Guelph in late 2007, and has been a recent recipient of the John Evans Leader’s Fund (through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation) that has allowed her to develop her specialist anaerobic fermentation laboratory further. She currently runs a lab of 11 people with projects that are broad in nature, but united under the banner of human microbiome research. These projects include studies of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and in particular comparing the metabolic signatures of whole gut microbial communities from children with severe ASD with those obtained from neurotypical children, looking for molecular signatures of dysbiosis in ASD.

Gregor Reid - PhD MBA FRSC

Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, and Surgery at the University of Western Ontario, Canada

Dr. Gregor Reid is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Surgery at Western University and has an Endowed Chair in the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotics at the Lawson Health Research Institute. He is an inductee into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He was educated at Glasgow University in Scotland (B.Sc. Hons), Massey University in New Zealand (PhD), Monash University in Australia (MBA), and received an Honorary Doctorate from Orebro University in Sweden. 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. 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. The Canadian R&D Centre for Probiotics won the 2011 Dean’s Award of Excellence at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Kjersti Aagaard - MD PhD FACOG

Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine, United States

Dr. Kjersti Aagaard is the Henry and Emma Meyer Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine, where she serves as Vice Chair. She received her MD & PhD from the University of Minnesota/Mayo Clinic. Following her resident training at the University of Minnesota and MFM fellowship at the University of Utah, she joined the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Aagaard carries joint appointments in Molecular and Human Genetics, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Translational Biology and Molecular Medicine program, and Molecular and Cellular Biology. She is a member of the Center for Reproductive Medicine, Digestive Disease Center, Eisenberg Center for Decision Sciences, the Center for Microbiome and Metagenomics Research, and the School for Tropical Medicine. She is a co-Director in the MSTP MD PhD program, and actively mentors in her laboratory and clinical research programs over 20 graduate students, post doctoral fellows, clinical fellows, and junior faculty. Dr. Aagaard has worked globally for many years, and has focused on preterm birth in Malawi since 2011. She received the NIH Directors New Innovator Award in 2007, and the Michael Debakey Medal for Research Excellence in 2015. Dr. Aagaard’s highly collaborative laboratory and clinical research teams are dedicated to discovering the genomic, epigenomic, and metagenomic mechanisms underlying perinatal health and disease. Her lab’s interest and publications in this arena date back to 2004 and have evolved into clinical and translational research in murine, nonhuman primate, and human studies. There are currently four major focuses in the Aagaard laboratory: (1) the effect of in utero exposures on the fetal epigenome, (2) understanding the genomic and epigenomic mechanisms involved in perinatal disorders and notably the developmental origins of adult metabolic disease, (3) understanding the role of the microbiome in perinatal health with metagenomic interrogations, and (4) understanding mechanisms of emerging infectious diseases such as Zika virus. Since receipt of her first K12 in 2005 as a MFM fellow, Dr. Aagaard has been continuously funded by NIH (NICHD, NIDDK, NIGMS and the Office of the Director), Burroughs Welcome Fund Preterm Birth Initiative, March of Dimes, and most recently the Gates Foundation/USAIDS and the Thrasher Foundation. Her research group focuses on relevant perinatal translational research, notably with “big team science” and highly collaborative multi-site and center approaches. They collectively aim to continue to function as a translational research environment for biologic and informatics investigators together to interact in a transdisciplinary manner, and bring to light highly relevant clinical questions with discovery and mechanistic science.

Deborah Sloboda - PhD

Professor Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, Canada

Dr. Deborah Sloboda is a fetal physiologist. She completed her BSc at the University of Guelph, her MSc at Western University in London and her PhD in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto focusing on the effects of stress hormones during pregnancy on fetal development. In 2001 she received a fellowship from the Women’s and Infants’ Research Foundation at the University of Western Australia, where she spent 5 years completing her postdoctoral fellowship while opening new molecular research laboratories and taking on an administrative role as Lab Head. Here she was responsible for undertaking scientific research but also building and managing the Department’s wet lab facilities. In Australia, Dr Sloboda continued her investigations in fetal endocrine development and established a new research interest involving a prospective cohort study investigating the prenatal origins of reproductive function and the onset of puberty in adolescent girls. In 2006 Dr Sloboda was recruited to the Liggins Research Institute at the University of Auckland where she investigated the effects of early life nutrition on reproductive and metabolic health. In 2009 she was awarded an Early Career Research Award from the University of Auckland. In 2012, Dr Sloboda joined the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University as an Associate Professor. She is an Associate member to the Depts of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Pediatrics. Dr Sloboda continues to be an Honorary Research Fellow Appointment at the Liggins Institute in New Zealand, where she maintains collaborations. Dr Sloboda holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Programming. She was recently awarded the International Society of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Nick Hales Award for outstanding research contribution to developmental programming, and in 2017 won the Hamilton YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Science Trade, and Technology. Dr Sloboda is the founding co-President of the DOHaD Society of Canada, and has been the Secretary of the International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease since 2013. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. She has published >90 scientific papers in leading scientific journals and contributed to 13 books on the concept of early life origins of health and disease.

Jeff Wong - Clinical Pharmacist

Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy, Canada

Jeff Wong graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2011, and completed his Primary Care Pharmacy Residency at the University Health Network in Toronto. He has been a clinical pharmacist with the Hamilton Family Health Team for the past 6 years, with a focus on: chronic disease management, travel medicine, and deprescribing. In 2016, he received his PharmD, also from the University of Waterloo. In addition to working with patients he also mentors residents, aids in quality improvement initiatives, and conducts practice-based research. His published research includes studying inappropriate medication use in elderly patients.

He is currently a Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy. His focus is on including diversity training into the curriculum, and increasing exposure to the needs to traditionally underserved populations.

Jaimie Hemsworth - RD PhD

Family Nutrition specialist at Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, Canada

Jaimie Hemsworth is a Registered Dietitian and holds a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health Nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her PhD focused on studying the impact of a specific nutritional supplement on the complementary food and breast milk intake of infants at risk for undernutrition in rural Malawi. She now has the great privilege of working in the far north of Ontario as a Family Nutrition Specialist at Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority. Here she works to harmonize and enhance existing nutrition programming for pregnant and lactating women, and children below school-age. Alongside her work, she is a passionate baker, sewer, gardener (both vegetables and flowers) and mom of two sweet little kids.

Kristin Connor - PhD

Assistant Professor of Developmental origins of health and disease at Carleton University, Canada

Dr. Kristin Connor is an Assistant Professor of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease in the Department of Health Sciences at Carleton University. She is a molecular geneticist and nutritionist by first training (University of Guelph) and obtained her doctorate in reproductive and developmental physiology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, where she conducted her research internationally. Dr. Connor was a Research Fellow and Investigator at the Liggins Institute and the National Research Centre for Growth and Development in Auckland, New Zealand, and a senior Research Fellow at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, where she currently conducts her human clinical research. Dr. Connor works with investigators nationally and her collaborations extend beyond Canada to teams in the United States, Brazil, France, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Dr. Connor has received various recognitions such as a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fellowship, awards from international research societies including the International Society of Endocrinology and the International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and was named a Venture Sinai Women’s Fellow. She also serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.

Jennifer Stearns - PhD

Endowed Farncombe Family Chair in Microbial Ecology and Bioinformatics and Assistant Professor at McMaster University, Canada

Dr. Jennifer Stearns has a PhD from the University of Waterloo where she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in microbial ecology. She gained expertise in interdisciplinary microbiome research as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Michael Surette at McMaster University. Dr. Stearns holds the Farncombe Family Endowed Chair in Microbial Ecology and Bioinformatics and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University. Her research focuses on how colonization and succession of microbial communities proceed in early life and what impact the microbiome has on health outcomes and disease risk.

John Marshall - MD MSc FRCPC AGAF

Professor of Medicine at McMaster University, Canada

Dr. Marshall is a Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Gastroenterology at McMaster University, as well as a consultant gastroenterologist at Hamilton Health Sciences in Hamilton Ontario. He completed his B.A. and M.D. at Queen’s University, and then undertook his residency training and M.Sc. in Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at McMaster University. He is a Full Member of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute. His publications include over 200 academic papers and book chapters and over 200 abstracts. Dr. Marshall is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (JCAG). He is alsoan Associate Editor of ACP Journal Club and Evidence-Based Medicine, an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, and an Editor for the Cochrane Collaboration Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Functional Bowel Disorders Review Group. Past honours include the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) Young Investigator Award (2008), the CAG Young Educator Award (2006) and Fellowship in the American Gastroenterological Association (2007). Dr. Marshall’s clinical and research interests include inflammatory bowel disease, post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal bleeding, endoscopy, clinical trials, clinical epidemiology, health outcomes and health economics.

Mary Sharpe - RM MEd PhD

Associate Professor at Ryerson University, Canada

Mary Sharpe served as director of Ryerson University’s Midwifery Education Program (MEP) for five years ending in the 2014-15 academic year. She started as lecturer in the MEP in 1994 and became an Assistant Professor in 2002, and then an Associate Professor. Mary’s Masters thesis examined the transition of midwifery to a regulated field in Ontario through the eyes of practicing midwives. It focused on midwives who practiced during the pre-regulation period and captured their impressions of the changing landscape. Mary’s primary research interest focuses on impediments that disturb the normal spontaneous birth process. Related to this is her keen interest in the relationships between women and their midwives, (her PhD dissertation) home births, exploring mindful midwifery practice and the phenomenon of GBS colonization. She was among the pioneers in the renaissance of midwifery in Ontario leading to its regulation in 1994. She has more than 35 years experience in the field and was one of the founders of the Riverdale Community Midwives practice. Mary has held many leadership roles, including chair of the Canadian Association of Midwifery Educators Accreditation Working Group and peer reviewer for the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice and in 2017 was the inaugural recipient of the Janice Waddell Faculty and Staff Collegiality Award at Ryerson University.

Janneke van de Wijgert - PhD MPH MSc

Professor of Infection and Global Health at the UMC Utrecht, the Netherlands and the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

Professor Janneke van de Wijgert is a translational infectious disease researcher at the University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands, and the Institute of Infection and Global Health of the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. She is educated in medical biology, public health epidemiology and medicine, and has gained professional experience in clinical epidemiological research, laboratory research, and product development. Her research focuses on the role of the human microbiome in health and disease, with an emphasis on the role of the cervicovaginal microbiome in reproductive and neonatal health and disease, and prevention of transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This includes evaluation of new treatment and prevention technologies and novel point-of-care diagnostics. Apart from the UK and the Netherlands, Professor van de Wijgert conducts her research in various African countries.

Dragana Skokovic-Sunjic - Clinical Pharmacist

Clinical pharmacist with Hamilton Family Health Team and NAMS certified menopause practitioner

Dragana Skokovic–Sunjic is a Clinical Pharmacist with Hamilton Family Health Team and NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner. She is a leader in knowledge mobilization for probiotics in Canada and United States, translating scientific research in this field, she authored “Clinical Guide to Probiotic Supplements Available in Canada” and “Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products Available in the US”. This practical clinical tool is independently reviewed and updated yearly in order to reflect the latest evidence and include new probiotic products on Canadian and US market. In 2003, Dragana attained certification as Menopause Practitioner with North American Menopause Society (NAMS). In 2008 she received Wyeth Apothecary Award for Specialty Practice, awarded by the Ontario Pharmacists Association to a pharmacist who has completed specialty education or training and as a result has successfully expanded his or her professional practice. She is actively involved as a Planning Committee and Board Member with the Canadian Menopause Society (SIGMA), presently working on the 2018 IMS World Congress preparation in Vancouver. Her work in the field of women’s health and probiotic influence on microbiome has been presented at International Menopause Society World Congress (Prague, Czech Republic, Sept 2016) and North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting (Orlando, FL, Oct 2016), and published in their respective scientific journals.

Deborah Money - MD FRCSC

Professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada

Dr. Deborah Money is the Executive Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at UBC and is a Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medicine, and the School of Population and Public Health. She is a subspecialist in Reproductive Infectious Diseases and immediate past-Executive Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI) and Past Vice President Research of BC Women’s Hospital. Dr. Money was trained with a BSc in Microbiology, and an MD at UBC followed by her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology, also at UBC. She did a clinical and research Fellowship in Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington, and returned to UBC as the first individual in Canada with this combined training. Dr. Money has developed a translational research program in Reproductive Infectious Diseases with research focused on three major areas: HIV in pregnancy, Human papilloma virus (HPV), and the prevention of cervical cancer; and is leading a Canadian (CIHR/GenomeBC) human microbiome project to understand the role of the vaginal microbiome in health and disease. As such she has published over 170 peer reviewed publications and received over $24M in peer reviewed research awards. She established the first training program in Reproductive Infectious Diseases in Canada, and she has trained/mentored 6 individuals who are now leaders in academic centres across Canada working as a network of experts supporting clinical care guidelines, education and research in this sub-speciality. She was honoured to be the first non-US President (2010-2012) of the Infectious Diseases Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (IDSOG), a 45 year old, US based, academic society. In 2013 she was awarded the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SOGC) Western Regional Award for achievement, the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. She was awarded the Women’s Health Research Institute Career Award for Excellence in Research in 2017.

John Bienenstock - MD FRCPC FRSC

Professor Pathology & Molecular Medicine at McMaster University, Canada

Dr. John Bienenstock is internationally known as a physician and mucosal immunologist. He trained at King’s College, London and Westminster Hospital, London, U.K. He holds the title of Distinguished University Professor at McMaster University, an Honorary MD (Goteborg, Sweden), is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Member of the Order of Canada and is an inductee into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. He is the Founding Director of the McMaster Brain-Body Institute at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, a former Chair of Pathology and subsequently Dean and Vice-President of the Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University. He has made significant contributions in medical and microbiome research. Among these are: Mucosal immunology; neuroimmunology; mast cells, and psychoneuroimmunology. Bienenstock pioneered the concept of the common mucosal system. The common mucosal system is the means by which the body’s different mucosal surfaces, such as the gut, the respiratory tract and the reproduction system, share information to fight infection. Working with Robert Clancy in 1972, Bienenstock’s team demonstrated that communication between the different mucosal surfaces was facilitated by lymphocytes from structures called Peyer’s patches located in the wall of the small intestine. Vaccines taken by mouth directly reach Peyer’s patch cells and induce immunity throughout the entire mucosal system. Bienenstock is one of McMaster’s most cited researchers, having written and published more than 500 peer-reviewed articles and other publications. He served as Dean of Health Sciences and Vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster, and Chair of the Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine. In 1998 he was appointed to the scientific advisory board of International Medical Innovations Inc., which is now known as PreMD Inc., a Canadian company working with McMaster University, and specializing in predictive medicine. His current projects include: functional role of mucosal mast cells; mechanisms of action of commensal bacteria in models of asthma, colitis and visceral pain; effects of commensal bacteria on cognition and behaviour; neuroimmune mechanisms.

Nikky Contractor - PhD

Senior Director for Nutritional Science at Metagenics

Dr. Nikky Contractor joined Metagenics in 2014 to lead the development of scientifically validated, nutritional solutions for gastrointestinal health as the Digestive Health Therapeutic Platform lead. In 2016, Dr. Contractor assumed responsibility for oversight of all Therapeutic Platforms. Through extensive external collaborations, her team is responsible for the identification of new technologies, the design and execution of research programs, and the scientific substantiation required to support Metagenics products.

Dr. Contractor has extensive experience running research programs in both academic- and industry-research settings across the spectrum of preclinical to clinical research with over 10 years in the development of nutritional products. She has held leadership positions at Wyeth, Pfizer and Nestle and has authored over 15 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Contractor earned her PhD in Immunology from the University of Pennsylvania where she studied the role of gut microbiota in models of inflammation and the function of the intestinal immune system. She continued these research interests as a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Janet Hill - PhD

Professor Veterinary Microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan, canada

Dr. Janet Hill is Professor and Head in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan. She was born in Toronto. Dr. Hill received her B.Sc.H. in Biology and Ph.D. in Microbiology at Queen’s University, followed by postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois and the National Research Council. Her graduate and postdoctoral studies included insect and plant virology, human parasitology, molecular diagnostics and bioinformatics. Dr. Hill’s current research interests are in the area of microbial diversity and ecology, and the role of complex microbial communities in animal and human health, with a particular interest in reproductive health. She also conducts research and diagnostic investigations of veterinary infectious disease. Dr. Hill has led the development of DNA barcoding approaches based on the universal cpn60 gene and her lab is the home of cpnDB, a public database of chaperonin sequences. She is an enthusiastic teacher, and research mentor of graduate and undergraduate students.

Michael Surette - PhD

Professor Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research at McMaster University, Canada

Dr. Michael Surette is currently Professor and Canada Research Chair Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research in the Department of Medicine and Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. He is also co-director of the McMaster Genomics Facility. Dr. Surette’s research addresses the human microbiome of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts in health and disease. The lab is focused on developing high throughput culturing and phenotyping methods to investigate infectious disease, the microbiome, applying and improving next-generation sequencing approaches to characterize the microbiome, and exploiting secondary metabolic products of the human microbiome. Disease specific projects are focused on cystic fibrosis, asthma, pneumonia, sepsis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. His lab is currently supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Genome Canada, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Foundation of Innovation.

Jessica ter Haar (Younes) - PhD

Scientific Director for the International probiotics association; probiotic industry consultant; and founder of this conference

Jessica ter Haar (née Younes) is currently the Scientific Director for the International Probiotics Association and is the founder of this conference. Her mandate at the IPA is to protect the integrity of probiotics, whilst driving the science forward. She also is a consultant in the probiotic industry focusing on R&D substantiation and communication of probiotics products/strains and business development. Jessica was previously a Microbiome Science Liaison and Business Developer at Winclove Probiotics. She combines expertise in the female microbiomes and probiotics with a strong personal interest in vulnerable patient populations. The microbiome must become accessible and understandable for healthcare professionals and she is convinced that one way to accomplish this is to facilitate awareness and communication of high quality research between scientific academic, medical and industry stakeholders. Coming from a large family of all girls, she is naturally passionate about the importance of microbes in women’s health and will continue to dedicate her career to helping to drive change. Jessica has a PhD from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) focused on biophysical interactions between microorganisms within the vaginal niche. Additionally, she holds a Masters in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Sciences from the University of Guelph (Guelph, Canada) and a bachelor in Kinesiology (York University, Toronto, Canada).

Michael France- PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine

Dr. Michael France earned his B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Louisville in 2008. He continued his education at the University of Idaho, working in Dr. Larry Forney’s lab. There he studied the ecology and evolution of bacteria with the broad goal of understanding how diversity is created and maintained in populations and communities. He earned his Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in 2018 and subsequently joined Dr. Jacques Ravel’s lab as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Genome Sciences in University of Maryland’s School of Medicine. His current research is focused on investigations of temporal stability in vaginal microbial communities through a multi-omics approach.

Mariya Petrova - PhD

Consultant and Founder of Microbiome insights and Probiotics Consultancy

Dr. Mariya Petrova is a consultant and founder of Microbiome insights and Probiotics Consultancy. She is passionate about women’s health and strongly believes that by studying the urogenital microbiome, we can provide better health care not only for women around the world but also for their newborn babies. She is also eager to provide better health care by developing novel technologies with a focus on human microbiota, probiotics, and prebiotics. Mariya holds a PhD degree in Bioscience Engineering from KU Leuven and Antwerp University, Belgium. She has five years of research experience as a research associate at KU Leuven and Antwerp University, Belgium, and the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Her research was focused on investigating genetic, molecular and functional characteristics of lactobacilli, which can provide general knowledge on their exciting properties for vaginal (versus intestinal) application, as well as on the molecular interaction between lactobacilli and pathogens. Further, she investigated on a molecular level how vaginal Lactobacillus species can contribute to women’s health by studying cell wall molecules and their role in colonization, pathogen exclusion, and immune modulation. Finally, Mariya explored how to design bioengineered probiotic strains for heterologous expression of therapeutic molecules to be administered to the vaginal and gastrointestinal niche.

Jean Macklaim- PhD

Bioinformatics Scientist at DNA Genotek

Dr. Jean M Macklaim is a computational biologist with a research focus on applying “omics” studies to examine host-microbiome interactions in a variety of settings, including human health, agriculture, and industrial applications. She completed her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario, during which she developed analysis techniques to characterize the vaginal microbiota (16S amplicon sequencing and metatranscriptomics), and determine how the various bacterial species can influence reproductive and general female health. Dr. Macklaim has also examined the impact of probiotics on human health, particularly their ability to modulate the vaginal microbiome community. She is a former President of the Students and Fellows Association of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP-SFA).

During her postdoc work she focused on the application of statistical and visual analysis methods for understanding complex sequencing and multi-omics data from clinical applications, to environmental and agriculture. She has conducted workshops on compositional data analysis of microbiome sequencing data for a variety of audiences, including ISAPP and Wellcome Genome Trust conferences.

Dr. Macklaim is currently a Bioinformatics Scientist at DNA Genotek in Ottawa, leading the company’s bioinformatics research and development efforts for utilizing their biological sample collection devices to derive consistent, stable, and meaningful metagenomic, metatranscriptomic and other sequencing results from a variety of human sample types including stool, oral, and vaginal. In the summer she likes to bike and go camping. Her favourite organism is Lactobacillus iners.

Vivien Brown - MD CCFP

Family Physician, VP Medical Affairs Medisys Passionate Advocate for Women's Health & Preventative Healthcare

Dr. Vivien Brown is a family physician, educated at McGill University, where she studied internal medicine as well as family medicine. She has a well-established community based practice in Toronto.  Certified by the College of Family Physicians in 1986, she has served as an examiner for the College, helping to maintain a high academic standard of care and is now a Fellow of the College of Family Physicians.

Previously a staff physician at the University of Toronto Health Service, she supervised residents for The Toronto Hospital. Currently she teaches medical students at all levels at Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Brown specializes in issues of Women’s Health, Adult Immunization and is recognized as a certified menopause clinician, by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). She serves on the NAMS Consumer Education Committee, promoting and teaching Women’s Health. In 2009, she received the Enid Johnson Macleod award recognizing a physician for the promotion of women’s health research and/or education.

Appointed to the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, and at McMaster University, Dr. Brown received the Community Development Award from the University of Toronto for Excellence in Professional Development. Most recently she received the award from the University of Toronto for Teaching at the Clerkship level.  Active in efforts to raise awareness for Women’s Health, she is an expert in implementation issues around HPV vaccination and the importance of immunization in preventative medicine.  Dr. Brown maintains her commitment to continuing education for family physicians by frequently lecturing nationally and internationally on preventative medicine.  Dr. Brown is on staff at Mount Sinai Hospital, The University Health Network and North York General Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She also is the National Director for Women’s Health at Medisys Health Group Inc.

Kelly Hayes - RM, BMW

Registered Midwife, UBC Faculty of Medicine Clinical Instructor, OPSiP study clinical lead and co-investigator

Kelly Hayes is a British Columbian registered midwife who has practiced in both urban and rural settings since graduating from UBC in 2005.  For over a decade she has held a keen interest in finding ways to reduce maternal Group B Streptococcus colonization with probiotics being front of mind.  She is thrilled to now have the opportunity to enter the world of research and is the clinical lead and co-investigator for the “Oral Probiotics in Pregnancy to Reduce Group B Streptococcus Colonization” (OPSiP) study.  This work is being undertaken as part of her PhD.  She currently works in Vancouver at both BC Women’s Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital.

Ruben Hummelen - MD PhD

Family physician and clinical epidemiologist - Associate Professor Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Ruben Hummelen has the privilege to work in North-Western Ontario, Canada, delivering healthcare to 33 remote fly-in communities with a team of generalist working for the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority. His practice involves obstetrics, hospitalist medicine, emergency medicine and addiction care. In addition, he works as a primary care researcher, focusing on improvements in maternal-child outcomes. He earned his medical degree at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. During his medical training he completed a PhD focusing on the microbiome of women living with HIV. His research took place in Tanzania in collaboration with Western University, Ontario, Canada. Living in the most stunning place in the world he also enjoys fat biking, cross country skiing, sailing and swimming in the land of a thousand lakes.