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New Young Investigator Grants for Probiotics Research Announced
Date:11/24/2008

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The Global Probiotics Council (GPC), a committee formed by Groupe DANONE and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., announced the availability of two grants for the second annual Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research (YIGPRO) today. Each Young Investigator Grant will provide $50,000 over one year. This year, the grant focus is on the role of probiotics and gastrointestinal microbiota in health and disease. The grants are designed to contribute to the advancement of probiotics and gastrointestinal microbiota research in the United States and to attract promising, young researchers into this field of study.

"Groupe DANONE and Yakult Honsha Co. are committed to benefiting human health by advancing research on probiotics. We established the GPC to raise awareness of probiotics and their health benefits through science-based education," said Sven Thormahlen, Executive Vice President R&D, Danone Research.

"We were very pleased with the impressive quality of applications received last year, and hope to see more of the same this year," said Mr. Ryuji Chino, Senior Managing Director, Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.

Researchers applying for this grant must be interested in understanding the health benefits of probiotics and the relationship between probiotics, gastrointestinal microbiota and the body.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits to us beyond basic nutrition when they are consumed in sufficient quantities. Substantial evidence is showing that certain strains of probiotics can improve digestive health and enhance immune function. Their use is gaining momentum in the United States as emerging research reinforces the benefits of regularly consuming specific strains of probiotics for specific conditions. These grants will help to advance science and uncover critical mechanisms by which probiotics promote health.

The supporters of the grant, Groupe DANONE and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., are the leading global companies researching probiotics with academic approaches.

Application procedures and additional details on the Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research program can be found at http://www.probioticsresearch.com.

The Global Probiotics Council (GPC) was established in 2004 through a collaborative agreement between 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 awareness of probiotics and their health benefits through science-based education and dissemination of information to health care professionals and the public;

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

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

GPC activities began with the establishment of the Probiotics Scientific Board in the United States. The Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research program was established to meet these goals by contributing to the advancement of probiotics study in the United States.

DANONE is the world's leading producer of yogurt products. These products are sold under the DANNON and DANONE brand names. Since its foundation, DANONE has built its business on product offerings which 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 based on scientific evidence. 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 amassed a collection of approximately 3,500 lactic bacteria strains or "cultures". In addition to taste and texture, some of these cultures provide probiotic health properties. Such is the case of Bifidobacterium animalis DN 173 010, used to produce Activia, and Lactobacillus casei DN 114 001, used to produce DanActive. Because this culture collection holds considerable potential for product innovation, DANONE RESEARCH using state-of-the-art technologies such as genomics and robotics to select the probiotic bacteria of the future is carefully studying it. 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. is one of the most established global probiotic dairy product manufacturers. Dr. Minoru Shirota, the founder of Yakult Honsha, was a pioneer in probiotic research. He isolated a strain of Lactobacillus casei and documented its beneficial properties, including suppressing harmful bacteria living in the intestines and helping to improve and maintain the health of human beings. This led to the development of Yakult(R), a fermented dairy drink, which incorporated these beneficial microorganisms.

The probiotic bacteria L. casei Shirota and Bifidobacterium breve Yakult possess a diverse and great potential. They are the two major probiotic bacteria out of approximately 4,000 microorganisms that Yakult collects and maintains in-house. The search and detection of new bio-markers is essential to elucidate new functions of probiotics. In order to clarify the effects of these probiotics on health maintenance and pathological amelioration, our institute has conducted numerous fundamental and clinical research activities. Concurrently, we are also engaged in research concerning the safety of probiotics, as well as the discovery of new probiotics.

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 Global Probiotics Council
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