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Global Probiotics Council Announces First Awardees for New Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research
Date:7/24/2008

ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The Global Probiotics Council (GPC), a committee established in 2004 by Groupe DANONE and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., announced the two awardees who will receive the inaugural Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research (YIGPRO) today. The program was created to identify young rising stars who will continue to contribute to the advancement of probiotics and gut microbiota research in the United States.

Ajay S. Gulati, MD, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the department of Pediatric Gastroenterology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was selected for his research proposal, "Antimicrobial Peptide Mediated Alterations of the Gut Microbiome in Nod 2/IL-10 Deficient Mice." This research will focus on a very important mechanistic process that could help researchers understand how host immune responses control the bacterial population that lives in the gut.

The other grant will be awarded to Matthew A. Ciorba, MD who is an Instructor in Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology at Washington University in Saint Louis. His proposal, "Probiotic Bacteria Protect from Radiation Induced Intestinal Injury: Mechanisms of Action" also scored at the top. This study could make an important contribution in understanding the mechanisms by which a probiotic may protect the intestine from cell destruction caused by radiation.

The Global Probiotics Council was pleased with the impressive quality of the applications received. A rigorous review and evaluation of all the applications was provided by the U.S. Probiotics Scientific Board Selection Committee, which is composed of W. Allan Walker, MD, Conrad Taff Professor of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, Executive Director, International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), and Balfour Sartor, MD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This committee scored the research proposals submitted by Dr. Ciorba and Dr. Gulati the highest.

The objectives of the grant program are to stimulate innovative research relevant to the field of gut microbiota, to support young investigators, and to attract new researchers into this field. Every year, new evidence is being discovered about the benefits of probiotics on human health, in areas like helping fight infections or improving gut comfort. The full potential of micro-organisms that help all of us live better continues to be unraveled. New research is now emerging that looks at functions of our gut microbiota in areas like obesity and inflammation. This is why it is believed that advancement in this whole research field is key to the development of probiotic food that contributes to good health at all ages of life.

"We received many excellent applications for the first year of this grant," said Sven Thormahlen, Executive Vice President R&D, Danone Research. "We hope the two young investigators will advance our knowledge in the growing field of probiotics and provide insight into the mechanistic processes which promote human health."

"We have a long history working with probiotics in Japan. We hope this new program will spark interest and excitement in the global field of probiotics," says Mr. Ryuji Chino, Senior Managing Director, Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.

The Global Probiotics Council will provide $50,000 over the course of one year to both Dr. Ciorba and Dr. Gulati and their respective institutions.

Additional details and future announcements on the Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research program can be found at http://www.probioticsresearch.com.

The Global Probiotics Council (GPC) is a committee established in 2004 by Groupe DANONE and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. The role of the GPC is to promote and/or advance probiotics in the world, through means such as:

i. Raising public awareness of probiotics and their health benefits through education and dissemination of information;

ii. Communicating with government bodies, and other relevant interest groups; and

iii. Building relationships with leading researchers and research institutions and supporting collaborative research in the area of probiotics and intestinal flora.

The US has been the first country where the GPC has created a Scientific Board. The GPC also regularly carries out activities to raise public awareness. For more information, please visit http://www.probioticsresearch.com.

DANONE is the world's leading producer of yogurt products, sold under the DANNON and DANONE brand names. Since its founding, DANONE has built its business on product offerings that combine health benefits and taste. DANONE RESEARCH is the organization responsible for all DANONE R&D activities (1200 employees worldwide). Its mission is to formulate DANONE products with health benefits (mainly through probiotics) and the scientific evidence to support the claims for these products. It also studies the effects of food on health and aims to continuously improve the nutritional profile of DANONE products worldwide. Probiotic research is a key expertise of DANONE RESEARCH. Over the past 90 years, DANONE has built one of the world's most comprehensive collections of lactic bacteria strains sampled directly from bio-diversity. Referred to as the DANONE "culture-collection," it contains approximately 3,000 different lactic bacteria strains. In addition to taste and texture, some of these ferments provide probiotic health properties. Such is the case of the Bifidus DN 173 010 strain, used to produce Activia, and the Lactobacillus casei DN 114 001 strain in DanActive. Among these only 50 are currently being used in DANONE products. Therefore the "culture-collection" holds considerable additional future potential for product innovation. DANONE RESEARCH has made it a key research area, using state-of-the-art technologies such as genomics and robotics to select the probiotic bacteria of the future. For more information, please visit http://www.danone.com/?lang=en, http://www.danone.com/en/research-innovations.html, http://www.dannon.com.

Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is the world's pioneer in probiotics by introducing the first single shot probiotics drink, Yakult(R), in 1935. Founded by microbiologist Dr. Minoru Shirota, Yakult(R) contains high amounts of its signature strain, Lactobacillus casei Shirota. Yakult is committed to researching the endless applications for probiotics and the use of intestinal bacteria in human health around the world. The company has established two science institutes to support its efforts: one in Japan (Yakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research) and one in Europe (Yakult Honsha European Research Center for Microbiology ESV). Since developing its overseas network in 1964, Yakult has expanded its business to 30 countries and territories. In addition to producing the internationally recognized probiotic beverage, Yakult is also accredited in the pharmaceutical field for its development of Campto Injection (Camptosar), the first-line drug for colorectal cancer in the U.S. Yakult U.S.A., the subsidiary of Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., is stationed in Torrance, CA. For more information, please visit http://www.yakult.co.jp/english, http://institute.yakult.co.jp http://www.yakultusa.com.


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SOURCE The Global Probiotics Council
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