For the eighth year in a row, Danone North America has given student grants through the Danone Gut Microbiome, Yogurt and Probiotics Fellowship Grant Program.
This year's honorees are Erica Kosmerl of The Ohio State University and Elizabeth Morrison of Indiana University. A committee of nutrition scientists selected the two winners based on the quality of their proposals, faculty recommendations and each of their studies' value to human health and wellness.
Kosmerl and Morrison will each receive $25,000 to help fund their independent studies of yogurt, probiotics and the human gut microbiome.
The Danone Fellowship Grant was established in 2010 with the intention of providing funding for novel studies of yogurt, probiotics and the gut microbiome. As such, Kosmerl's research will examine the impact of dairy intake and bifidobacteria on the gut microbiome during infancy, and Morrison's research will assess the role of probiotic, B. infantis on infant gut microbiome.
Both proposals use modern methodology to examine the infant gut microbiome, inform future research and expand current knowledge of the role of probiotics on milk protein digestibility in infants.
The impact of yogurt, probiotics and the gut microbiome has exceeded expectations and been tied to brain, digestive and immune function. Unsurprisingly, consumer interest in fermented foods and gut health has soared – and top research institutions are pioneering new ways to study various aspects of its power and potential.
"Probiotics show potential in mitigating the negative consequences of gut dysbiosis in infants. Understanding the benefits specific to individual probiotic species will highly benefit future research to develop treatment algorithims," Morrison, who is a PhD candidate in Biology and Neuroscience at Indiana University, said.
"Receiving the Danone grant will give me the opportunity to investigate this promising area of science."
Miguel Freitas, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs at Danone North America, said, "Danone North America strives to nurture advances in yogurt, probiotic and gut microbiome science.
"We recognize that supporting the pursuit of academic and scientific excellence will lead to meaningful advancements in the study of human health."