Organizing Committee

2017 Conference Members

Dr. Jessica Younes
Science Liaison, Winclove Probiotics

Jessica Younes, PhD, works at Winclove Probiotics in Amsterdam as a Science Liaison in the women's health product portfolio. The first edition of this conference was organized in conjunction with her PhD defence in May 2015; her research was focused on demonstrating the importance of biofilms and adhesion between bacteria and between bacteria and epithelial cells for various outcomes related to health or dysbiosis in the vaginal environment. Jessica is passionate about making information about the microbiota(s) accessible to various stakeholders to facilitate solutions for prevention and treatment of infectious and microbial dysbiotic conditions in women's health. Furthermore, she is a member of two scientific advisory boards for conferences focused on microbes.

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Dr. Ruben Hummelen
Family Physician and Clinical Epidemiologist - Assistant 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
Postdoctoral Fellow at Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics

Mariya Petrova, PhD, 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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Elke Lievens
PhD Student 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
Scientific Project Leader, Danone Early Life Nutrition
Yuliya Borre, PhD, 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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