This year's recipients, selected by a committee of nutrition scientists, are Catherine Shelton of Vanderbilt University and Alice Solomon of the University of Arizona. Winners were chosen based on the quality of their proposals, faculty recommendations and each of their studies' value to human health and wellness.
"This year, we are pleased to have received an abundance of exceptional, highly innovative proposals," said Miguel Freitas, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs at Danone North America.
"The 2020-2021 winners are poised to drive scientific discoveries and contribute to crucial advances in our understanding of probiotics, the gut microbiome and human health. At Danone North America, we consider it our purpose to help further this field and support the future of these high-quality researchers."
The Danone Fellowship Grant was established in 2010 with the intention of providing funding for novel studies of yogurt, probiotics and the gut microbiome. Solomon's research will investigate the mechanisms of probiotic and prebiotic function in the gut microbiome as a mediator of cardiovascular disease and Metabolic Syndrome, while Shelton will be identifying early-life microbiota components that may prevent obesity in children.
"Receiving this grant means I am given an opportunity to study a relationship that is commonly overlooked and not well studied," said Solomon.
"This grant allows me to investigate the mechanisms of probiotic function in the gut microbiome as a mediator of cardiovascular disease and other related complications that arise during menopause. I am excited to complete my research proposal because I look forward to contributing to the overall improvement of human health through insight gained from studying the gut microbiome."
The impact of yogurt, probiotics and the gut microbiome has been tied to brain, digestive and immune function. Consumer interest in fermented foods, immune health and gut health has soared – and research institutions are pioneering new ways to study various aspects of its power, potential and influence. Consumers are also increasingly interested in the connection between gut health and the immune system as they continue to seek out products tailored to helping improve specific health and wellness issues.
"I am honored to be selected as one of the 2020-2021 Danone Fellowship Grant winners," said Shelton.
"I am very excited to receive this Grant award as it will help advance my scientific career and support my research into the role of early-life microbiota metabolites in host health. The role of the early-life microbiota in childhood weight gain is largely unknown. I'm excited to address this critical gap in knowledge and gain a deeper mechanistic understanding of how the early-life microbiota protects against obesity. I'm particularly enthusiastic about identifying early-life microbiota-derived metabolites that prevent diet-induced obesity."