Scientific Advisory Board

2018 Board Members

Dr. Gregor Reid
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.

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Dr. Hans Verstraelen
Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at Ghent University, Belgium

Dr. Hans Verstraelen is a Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 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.

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Dr. Janneke van de Wijgert
Professor of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

Dr. Janneke van de Wijgert is a translational infectious disease researcher at 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, including evaluation of new prevention technologies and novel rapid diagnostics. Apart from the UK and the Netherlands, Dr. van de Wijgert performs her research in various African countries in which she co-founded three clinical research sites: the UZ-UCSF Women's Health Program in Zimbabwe (1995), Rinda Ubuzima in Rwanda (2004) and Centro de Investigação de Doenças Infecciosas in Mozambique (2008).

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Dr. Kjersti Aagaard
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.

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