Executive Board

2018 Members

Dr. Jessica ter Haar, PhD
Microbiome Science Liaison, Winclove Probiotics

Jessica ter Haar (Younes) is a Microbiome Science Liaison at Winclove Probiotics, Amsterdam and the founder of this conference. 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).

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Dr. 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.

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Dr. Mariya Petrova, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow at Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics

Mariya Petrova is working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, KU Leuven as well as at the Laboratory of Applied Microbiology and Mucosal Immunology, Antwerp University. Her PhD research was focused on investigating genetic, molecular and functional characteristics of lactobacilli, which can provide general knowledge on their interesting properties for vaginal (versus intestinal) application, as well as on the molecular interaction between lactobacilli and pathogens. Currently, her research focuses on how vaginal lactobacilli can contribute to women’s health by studying cell wall molecules and their role in colonisation, pathogen exclusion and immune modulation. Furthermore, she investigates how to design bioengineered probiotic strains for heterologous expression of therapeutic molecules to be administered to the vaginal niche.

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Dr. Elke Lievens, PhD
PhD graduate at Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics

Elke Lievens is performing her research as a PhD student at the Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, KU Leuven in collaboration with the Laboratory of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Antwerp University. She graduated as Bioscience Engineer in 2012 as a Cell and Gene Technology specialist and completed her master degree with an IAESTE internship in the Cell Biology team focusing on mycotoxin risk management (BIOMIN, Austria). Her PhD research focuses on the molecular mechanisms by which vaginal lactobacilli contribute to the vaginal barrier in order to maintain a healthy vaginal ecosystem as well as the antiviral potential of these lactobacilli against herpes simplex virus type 2 infection. Elke continues to be fascinated by the importance of microbes in the balance between health and disease. To actively participate in better women’s health through microbial management, she was determined to join the organizational committee to launch this 2016 edition of Women and Their Microbes.

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Rebecca van der Westen
PhD student at Department of Biomedical Engineering, UMCG

Rebecca van der Westen is pursuing her research as a PhD student at the University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands at the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She graduated as Cand. Scient. in Medical Chemistry 2012 from the University of Aarhus, Denmark. Her PhD research focuses on the initial adhesion of different strains of bacteria, S. salivarius, S. aureus, and S. epidermidis onto different types of surfaces. More specifically her study involves the intracellular micromechanical properties, such as bacterium-substrate cell stiffness. Although not directly invovled in women’s health from the science side, Rebecca is extremely fascinated by microbial management and how probiotics can benefit women and also people in general.

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Dr. Yuliya Borre, PhD
Scientific Project Leader, Danone Early Life Nutrition

Yuliya Borre is a Scientific Project Leader at Danone, working as a R&D ambassador for the Early Life Nutrition Allergy program. Yuliya left the ‘dark side’ of the CNS pharma drug discovery and continued her career investigating the role of intestinal microbiota in health and disease: first at Utrecht University, the Netherlands; followed by a postdoctoral training at the APC Microbiome Institute, Cork, Ireland. Yuliya has a gut feeling about the potential impact of the microbiota modulating therapies on prevention and treatment of various disorders in early life.

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