Speakers & Moderators

These speakers will address various topics that link food, agriculture, medicine, and the human gut microbiota.

Dr. Laure Bindels Assistant Professor, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Topic: Complexity of the problem -- the challenge of understanding complex interactions between diet, microbiome, host, and health/disease across populations of humans.

Laure Bindels is a pharmacist who trained at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. During her PhD, she focused her research on the therapeutic interest of prebiotics and probiotics in the control of tumor progression and associated cachexia. She then moved to a postdoctoral position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA, where she studied the role of the gut microbiota in the metabolic benefits of resistant starches. Dr. Bindels is now an Assistant Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, where she is exploring the contribution of bacterial metabolites, derived from the gut microbiota, to metabolic and inflammatory disorders associated with cancer.

Portrait of Dr. Laure Bindels.
Dr. Laure Bindels

Dr. Eugene B. Chang, MDProfessor of Medicine and Director of Microbiome Medicine Program, University of Chicago
Topic: Cautionary Tales – Diet-microbiome interactions contributing to disease.

Eugene B. Chang is a physician-scientist, the Martin Boyer Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and the Director of the Microbiome Medicine Program at the University of Chicago. He leads a large, multi-disciplinary group of basic and clinical investigators in studies of host-microbe interactions and disease mechanisms of the gut in states of health and disease (primarily complex immune disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases and metabolic disorders such as obesity and metabolic syndrome). These studies have been supported through several NIH grants and involve team science collaborations with colleagues from multi-disciplinary backgrounds.

Portrait of Dr. Eugene B. Chang.
Dr. Eugene B. Chang

Dr. Nathalie Delzenne Professor, Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and President, Louvain Drug Research Institute
Topic: Integrating prevention in susceptible individuals into disease management strategies.

Nathalie Delzenne is Full Professor and lecturer in Nutrition Biochemistry and Metabolism, at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain, Belgium). She is the President of the Louvain Drug Research Institute and is involved in international scientific committees (chair of the Scientific Committee of ESPEN, Member of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Belgium, Editor for the Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, former member of the Board of directors of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, Past-President of the Belgian Nutrition Society).

Dr. Delzenne has been a pioneer in the discovery of nutrients (prebiotics) targeting the gut microbiota to control nutritional disorders, including obesity, cachexia, and dependence on alcohol. She appears as first or last author on more than 300 papers, leading several international projects focused on nutrition and health. She is a highly cited researcher (Thompson Reuters – since 2017).

Portrait of Dr. Nathalie Delzenne.
Dr. Nathalie Delzenne

Bob DurkinOf Counsel, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP
Topic: Panel discussion: Substantiation, standardization, and regulatory—what is the proper space for “Food for Health” products?

Robert (Bob) Durkin is Of Counsel in the law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in its FDA and Healthcare practices, and is a member of the Dietary Supplements industry team. As a former acting Director and Deputy Director of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP) in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), he brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to his legal practice. In working with AGG clients, Bob will draw from the extensive experience he gained at the FDA where he was responsible for performing policy analysis and evaluations relatedto all aspects of the agency’s dietary supplement programs while also providing skillful advice on compliance and enforcement issues (such as Warning Letters, seizures, injunctions, import detention/refusal, etc.). During this time, he was active in a variety of agency working groups, including: Agency-wide Marijuana Working Group, Agency-wide CBD Policy Working Group, and the Agency-wide Investigational New Drug (IND) Policy Working Group.

While helping to lead ODSP, Bob also successfully led the Office through multiple GAO investigations. Just prior to joining ODSP, Bob was the acting Director of CFSAN’s Food Defense Staff. In this role, Bob led a dedicated group of professionals whose duty it was to determine the best regulatory strategies to help protect the US food supply from intentional contamination. The Food Defense staff’s work includes the implantation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act’s Rule for Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food against Intentional Adulteration and determining the best ways to educate, and then regulate, industry relative to the Rule. Bob has also served in both the Commissioner’s office and the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). While in the Commissioner’s Office, Bob managed a staff of Emergency Response Coordinators whose focus was on coordinating an over-all Agency approach to mitigate and respond to urgent health concerns related to FDA regulated commodities. While at CDER, Bob worked in the areas of health fraud, over the counter drugs, and pharmacy compounding.

Portrait of Bob Durkin.
Bob Durkin

Dr. Bruce German Professor, University of California, Davis
Topic: Food for health and why it matters.

Bruce German directs the Foods for Health Institute (FFHI), established in order to bring personalized health to practice by creating the tools to personalize health assessment and the mechanistic understanding of how diet controls health. Dr. German’s laboratory group focuses on research seeking to understand how to improve foods and their ability to deliver improved health. The model being used to pave the way toward improving the health benefits of foods is milk, which evolved to make healthy mammals healthier. Milk is the only biomaterial that has evolved under the Darwinian selective pressure for the specific and sole purpose of nourishing growing mammals. This evolutionary logic is the basis of the research program to discover physical, functional and nutritional properties of milk components.

Dr. German is also interested in personalized health and research is developing the means to understand how individual human lipid metabolism responds to the lipid composition of diets. Each person has slightly different responses to diet based on their own genetics, metabolism and nutrition status. One of the goals of his laboratory research is to understand the molecular basis of these differences, how to recognize them, and design food strategies to complement them. His group is working on analyses to allow individuals to monitor how their body reacts to various foods and to modify their consumption to maintain good health.

Portrait of Dr. Bruce German.
Dr. Bruce German

Dr. Bruce Hamaker Professor, Purdue University
Topic: Complexity of the problem II - what are the best dietary components for targeting the microbiome to improve human health?

Bruce Hamaker’s general research areas include carbohydrates & health, starch and cereal chemistry. His specific research interests include: manipulation of starch digestion rate for low glycemic response/slow digestion; dietary fiber, modifications in functionality and fermentability, microbiota changes; cereal starch and protein functionality; textural properties influenced by starch fine structure; interactions between starch and other food components; appropriate methods of improving cereal utilization in developing countries; cereal endosperm texture; and electron and confocal microscopy of cereal components.

Dr. Hamaker is director of The Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, which focuses on fundamental investigations of structure-function relationships of carbohydrates and other biopolymers as related to practical uses. The Center's particular focus is polysaccharides (starches and gums/hydrocolloids). Structure-function relationships are determined via elucidation of chemical and three-dimensional structures, determination of physical properties and functionalities, modifications of chemical structures, and determination of the effects of modifications on conformations, properties, and functionalities. Technological issues and targets are defined in partnership with corporate sponsors.

Portrait of Dr. Bruce Hamaker.
Dr. Bruce Hamaker

Dr. Peter Mannon, MD Professor University of Nebraska Medical Center
Topic: Microbes for Treatment of Disease.

Peter Mannon, MD, is Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division and Director of the Paustian Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. His translational research focuses on identifying endophenotypes of IBD that can predict treatment response, studying the clonotype sharing of microbial-antigen reactive T cells in Crohn’s disease, and is defining the features of the gut microbial and metabolomic signatures that predict the development of metabolic syndrome after solid organ transplantation.

Portrait of Dr. Peter Mannon, MD.
Dr. Peter Mannon, MD

Dr. Deanna L. Gibson Associate Professor, The University of British Columbia, Canada
Topic: What are the best microbiome-associated targets for improving human Health?

Deanna Gibson is an Associate Professor and Associate Head of Research, Biology, at the University of British Columbia on the Okanagan Campus. She is an experimental scientist who studies how the gut microbiome develops in response to the environmental ques like diet and how this drives immunity. While genetics plays a role in the type of microbes that one harbours, other factors are major predictors of which types of microbes and bacterial metabolites are produced in the mammalian gut. For example, early life is an important time for microbial colonization and has shown maternal dietary patterns alters the breastmilk fungal and bacterial communities which is passed on from mother to offspring. Host behaviours, such as exercise, predict microbiome diversity associated with metabolite production in the human gut; diet, the lived environment as well as food toxins associated with agricultural practices are also important factors that drive the gut microbiome.

One focus of Dr. Gibson’s research has been how to improve diets for IBD patients and she is currently conducting a clinical trial on the Mediterranean diet pattern in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease patients. She has also been working on improving the bioavailability of probiotics. She has created patented designer probiotics to treat various inflammatory conditions including inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes.

She was the recipient of an NSERC research scholar award, a UBC Killam research award and the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology 2018 Young Investigator Award. She has been the recipient of grant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research, NSERC and Crohns and Colitis Canada. She teaches medical microbiology, immunology and virology at UBCO and mentors many students in her research lab.

Portrait of Dr. Deanna L. Gibson.
Dr. Deanna L. Gibson

Dr. Zac Lewis CSO, Synbiotic Health
Topic: From Seed to Success -- Understanding the Opportunities and Barriers to Product Commercialization

Zac Lewis is a microbial ecologist by training, and a probiotic expert by profession. He holds a PhD in microbiology from UC Davis and previously created pre- and probiotic products for Clorox on the Renew Life brand. As CSO of Synbiotic Health, he currently runs the R&D efforts of the company, developing superior probiotic strains and intelligently paired synbiotics.

Portrait of Dr. Zac Lewis.
Dr. Zac Lewis

Dr. Eric Martens Associate Professor,  University of Michigan Medical School
Topic: Dietary Components and Modulation of the Gut Microbiome -- what does the catalogue look like?

Eric Martens is Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Martens obtained his B.A. (1997) from Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D. (2005) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Martens began investigating the mechanisms through which human gut bacteria digest diet-and host derived polysaccharides during his postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University School of Medicine. He continued to pursue this work at the University of Michigan Medical School in 2009 with a focus on members of the Bacteroidetes, one of only a few numerically dominant phyla of human gut bacteria, which are particularly adept at degrading diet-and host-derived polysaccharides. Current projects in the Martens laboratory are aimed at understanding the role of commensal gut bacteria in triggering inflammatory bowel disease, the dependency of inflammatory outcomes on the amount and variety of dietary fiber ,and the mechanisms through which bacterial mucin-degrading enzymes digest the mucosal barrier and promote disease. Additional projects in his lab are focused on lateral gene transfer between bacteria in environments like the ocean and those in the gut, bacteriophage interactions with gut bacteria and the immune system, and cultivation and characterization of the unstudied majority of human gut symbionts.

Portrait of Dr. Eric Martens
Dr. Eric Martens

Dr. Daniel Merenstein, MD Professor,  Georgetown University
Topic: Substantiation, standardization, and regulatory—what is the proper space for “Food for Health” products?

Daniel Merenstein is a Professor with tenure of Family Medicine at Georgetown University, where he also directs Family Medicine research. Dr. Merenstein has a secondary appointment in the undergraduate Department of Human Science, in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. He teaches two undergraduate classes, a research capstone and a seminar class on evaluating evidence based medical decisions. Dr. Merenstein is the President of the board of directors of the International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP). His research has been funded by the NIH, USDA, Foundations and Industry, for grants over $100 million. The primary goal of Dr. Merenstein’s research is to provide answers to common clinical questions that lack evidence and improve patient care. Dr. Merenstein is a clinical trialist who has recruited over 1,900 participants for 10 probiotic trials since 2006. He is an expert on probiotics, antibiotic stewardship in outpatient settings and also conducts HIV research in a large women’s cohort.

Portrait of Dr. Daniel Merenstein
Dr. Daniel Merenstein

Dr. Susan Mitmesser Vice President, Science and Technology at Pharmavite, LLC.
Topic: Commercializing innovation in the diet-microbiome space.

Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, is VP, Science and Technology at Pharmavite, LLC. Dr. Mitmesser provides scientific leadership at Pharmavite to advance innovation and new product development strategies, and to ensure the scientific integrity of all products made under its brand portfolio. She brings extensive experience in research and nutritional biochemistry across various industries and sectors, including food, dietary supplements, academia and clinical settings. She serves on the Editorial Board of four peer-reviewed journals: Advance Journal of Food Science and Technology, Journal of Pediatric Intensive Care, World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, and Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. In addition, she has published in many peer-reviewed journals and is a contributing author for book chapters relating to nutrition in adult and pediatric populations. Dr. Mitmesser is an active member of the American Society of Nutrition, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the New York Academy of Sciences. She also serves on the Senior Scientific Advisory Council for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Currently, Dr. Mitmesser is an adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Connecticut and in the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She holds a PhD in Nutrition from the University of Nebraska.

Portrait of Susan Mitmesser.
Susan Mitmesser

Dr. Eileen Murphy Technical Director, PrecisionBiotics and Health & Strategy Lead, OneHealth, Novozymes.
Topic: Panel discussion: Substantiation, standardization, and regulatory—what is the proper space for “Food for Health” products?

Eileen Murphy is an innovative, dynamic technical lead with 12+ years experience of recognizing and managing new product opportunities in the microbiome and probiotic space. She has developed scientific, regulatory, clinical and commercial knowledge focused on driving innovation to support growth, and has a track record of turning microbiome science into clinical solutions and successful product innovations. Eileen was previously a key member of the Host Response Group at APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, one of the world’s leading centres of microbiome research. Eileen obtained her PhD from University College Cork, being awarded a fellowship from the National University of Ireland as well as sponsorship from the European NutriGenomics Organisation (NuGO).

Portrait of Eileen Murphy.
Eileen Murphy

Dr. Vince Young, MD Professor, University of Michigan Medical School
Topic: Complexity of the problem -- the challenge of understanding complex interactions between diet, microbiome, host, and health/disease across populations of humans.

Vince Young is the William Henry Fitzbutler Collegiate Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases Division and the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School. He received his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985 and received his M.D. and his Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from Stanford University 1992. He completed his clinical training in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He was previously on the faculty at Michigan State University prior to joining the University of Michigan in 2007.

Dr. Young has a long-standing interest in understanding the pathogenesis of bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract and the role of the normal microbiota in human health and disease. As part of the NIH Human Microbiome Project, Dr. Young led a team that studied the role of the microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease. Current research in the Young Lab includes a team science effort to understand the pathogenesis Clostridioides difficile infection by an integrated approach that combines clinical research, bacterial genomics, microbial ecology and immunology/host response projects. He is also leading a group of investigators that is developing the use of stem cell-derived intestinal organoids as a novel alternative model system for the study of enteric disease agents. A key aspect of Dr. Young’s research is translating basic research to clinical practice and also observing trends in clinical care to drive the research done in the laboratory.

Portrait of Vince Young.
Dr. Vince Young

Charlie Arnot CEO, Center for Food Integrity and President, Look East PR
Topic: Substantiation, standardization, and regulatory—what is the proper space for “Food for Health” products?

Charlie Arnot is recognized as a thought leader in food and agriculture. Charlie has more than 25 years of experience working in communications, public relations and issues management within the food system. He is the founder and president of Look East, an employee-owned consulting firm. He also serves as CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, a international non-profit organization dedicated to building consumer trust and confidence in today's food system.

One client said of Charlie’s work, “others help us talk about our business, you help us think differently about who we are and what we do.” His commitment to excellence, innovation and integrity have positioned him as a trusted counselor to CEOs, government leaders and executives, and a respected industry advisor on critical issues within the food system. Clients and food and farm industry leaders seek his unique expertise in applying the peer reviewed trust model to help them build trust in their processes, products, people and brands.

Charlie is the author of, “Size Matters, Why We Love to Hate Big Food,” which was named the top ag book of 2018 by noted DC journalist Jerry Hagstrom who said, “Charlie Arnot is the only consumer analyst who can explain to agribusiness executives why consumers distrust them – and not make the executives angry.”

Charlie spent ten years as a corporate officer for a leading food company; he worked for a public relations agency, was an award-winning radio journalist and worked in video and film. Charlie grew up in southeast Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Journalism degree.

Portrait of Charlie Arnot.
Charlie Arnot

Alan Murray Nutritional foods & supplements industry consultant and board member
Topic: Taking it to the streets—commercializing innovation in the diet-microbiome space

Alan Murray has worked in the world of nutritional foods and supplements for more than 10 years. Until November 2019 he served as the CEO of NextFoods Inc, the makers of GoodBelly Probiotic Juice. Alan was involved with the company at its inception in 2008, assisting in securing the license of a patented probiotic strain from Sweden, raising initial outside capital, and participating in the product’s naming. During his tenure as CEO the company grew to become the recognized brand in digestive health, and expanded into multiple categories (yogurt, cereal, bars) and internationally. He led the efforts to raise capital from private equity and secured an investment from a leading food company.

Alan has more than 30 years of experience leading global corporations across the consumer and packaging industries. Before joining NextFoods, he spent 20 years at Tetra Pak — a multinational processing and packaging company —most recently as the CEO for Tetra Pak North America. During his time there, he also served as CEO of Tetra Pak’s Czech Republic & Slovakia and Southern Africa divisions, amongst other roles. He began his career at Unilever in South Africa.

Currently, Alan sits on a number of Boards in the natural foods and packaging industries, working closely with founders, investors, and management teams. Previously, he served as the Chairman of SunOpta Inc, a billion dollar public company, the Carton Council, an industry organization established to promote the recycling of beverage cartons, which he founded, and The Retail Innovation Council, a senior level retail think tank.

Alan is regularly featured in natural foods and business media. His most recent public speaking topics have included: A New Role for Retail in Emerging Brands, Personalized Nutrition; Communicating Science to Consumers; Women on Boards, and Rapid Prototyping to Accelerate Innovation. He holds a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Cape Town.

Portrait of Alan Murray.
Alan Murray

Dr. Jens Walter Professor, APC Microbiome Ireland
Topic: Complexity of the problem—the challenge of understanding complex interactions between diet, microbiome, host, and health/disease across populations of humans.

Jens Walter is a Professor at APC Microbiome Ireland's School of Microbiology and Department of Medicine. His expertise lies at the interface of evolutionary ecology of the gut microbiome and human nutrition. More specifically, his research focuses on the evolutionary and ecological processes that have shaped the host-microbiome interrelationship and the translation of basic microbiome science into therapeutic and nutritional strategies. Dr. Walter and his collaborators have pioneered the application of ecological theory to elucidate factors (host genetics, colonization history, dispersal, diet) that shape gut microbiomes and to achieve targeted and more systematic modulations of microbiomes via diet and live microbes. His team has further used a combination of phylogenomics and animal experiments to elucidate the evolution and ecology of intestinal lactobacilli. Dr. Walter, a highly-cited researcher in the field, has published >115 peer-reviewed publications, and his work has been featured on several journal covers (Cell Reports, Cell Host and Microbe, Applied and Environmental Microbiology), and in hundreds of news outlets worldwide.

Portrait of Dr. Jens Walter.
Dr. Jens Walter

Dr. Wendy Garrett MD Professor, Harvard University
Topic: Cautionary Tales--Diet-microbiome interactions contributing to disease

Wendy Garrett is the Irene Heinz Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard and a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Garrett co-founded and co-directs the Harvard Chan Microbiome in Public Health Center and her lab’s research focuses on the interplay between the gastrointestinal immune system and the gut microbiota in health, inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Her laboratory has identified both specific species, pathways, and metabolites produced by the microbiota that influence health and disease states.

Portrait of Dr. Jens Walter.
Dr. Wendy Garrett MD

Dr. Tiffany Weir Associate Professor, Colorado State University
Topic: Integrating prevention in susceptible individuals into disease management strategies

Tiffany Weir is an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Her research focuses on understanding the impact of diet on the gut microbiota and the role of the gut microbiome in development of cardiometabolic diseases. Her specific work includes exploring the mechanisms by which the microbiota drives development of vascular dysfunction in pre-clinical and clinical models as well as identifying potential therapeutics such as functional foods and dietary supplements.

Dr. Weir received her B.S. in biology from Pennsylvania State University in 1995. She earned her M.S. in plant pathology from the same institution in 1997 and her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from CSU in 2008. In addition to research, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Fermentation Microbiology, Probiotics and Phytochemicals for Health, and Current Topics in Nutrition: Personalized Nutrition.

Portrait of Dr. Jens Walter.
Dr. Tiffany Weir

Dr. Yolanda Sanz Professor, Spanish National Research Council
Topic: Food for health and why it matters

Yolanda Sanz holds a PhD in Pharmacy and, currently, is Professor at the Spanish National Research Council (IATA-CSIC). She has held fellowships at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), INRA in Jouy-en-Josas (France) and McMaster University in Hamilton (Canada) during her career. Her research group focuses on the role the gut microbiota plays in the transition from health to disease, through its interaction with the diet and the host immune and neuroendocrine systems. She also works on the selection of keystone intestinal bacteria that could bring health benefits and the development of dietary strategies that, through the modulation of the microbiome, reduce the disease risk. She has coordinated one of the largest human microbiome projects in Europe focused on metabolic and mental health (MyNewGut; www.mynewgut.eu). She is currently involved in other three European projects related to human health and food chain microbiomes (MicrobiomeSupport, CIRCLES, EarlyCause) and supervises two Marie Curie actions related to obesity (miVaO and MicroILCs) of the H2020 program.

She has been a Member of the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (2009-2018) and, currently is a member of the EFSA's FEEDAP Panel (2018-2021). She is also co-chair of the working group on Nutrition and Health of European Platform Food for Life since 2017.

Portrait of Yolanda Sanz.
Dr. Yolanda Sanz

Dr. Jianming Yu Professor, Iowa State University
Topic: Opportunities and challenges for microbiome active trait breeding in crop plants

Jianming Yu is Professor and Pioneer Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding in the Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University. He obtained his B.S. from Northwest A&F University in 1994, M.S. from Kansas State University in 2000, and Ph.D. from University of Minnesota in 2003. Yu worked at Kansas State University from 2006 to 2012, before moving to Iowa State University in 2013. Yu is currently a member of Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding and a Faculty Scholar of Plant Sciences Institute. His research discoveries fall into four categories: complex trait dissection, genes and genetics, genomes and chromosomes, and breeding strategy. Among other honors, Yu was elected to Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2018.

In 2019, Yu’s research team uncovered the first case of domestication triangle, in which human genetics interact with sorghum genetics and the environment to influence the proportion of tannin sorghums farmers grown in different parts of Africa (Nature Plants 5:1229-1236). Crop domestication is a complex process of dynamically balancing two competing forces: artificial selection and natural selection. This discovery could help uncover future cases.

Portrait of Dr. Jianming Yu.
Dr. Jianming Yu

Dr. Sherry Flint-Garcia Research Geneticist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service and Adjunct Professor, University of Missouri
Topic: Opportunities and challenges for microbiome active trait breeding in crop plants

Sherry Flint-Garcia has been a Research Geneticist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service since 2006. She grew up on a dairy farm in central Minnesota, which was very important to her agricultural view of science. She received her B.A. in Biology in 1996 from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and her Ph.D. in Genetics in 2001 from the University of Missouri. She was a postdoctoral research fellow at North Carolina State University in Raleigh in 2002-2004 (project: Association Analysis in Diverse Maize) and USDA-ARS in Columbia, MO (project: Artificial Selection in Maize Amino Acid Pathways). She then became a Research Geneticist with the USDA-ARS in Columbia, MO (2006-present). In addition to her current role, Dr. Flint-Garcia also holds Adjunct Professor titles in both the Division of Plant Sciences and the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri.

Dr. Flint-Garcia has taken a leading role in the development and characterization of maize genetics and breeding resources in including developing/assembling germplasm resources such as the 302 diverse inbred line association mapping panel, the maize nested-association mapping population, teosinte introgression populations, and the Zea Synthetic doubled haploid population. Her lab studies the genetics of kernel traits in diverse maize including kernel composition and kernel weight. Her studies in diverse maize and wild relatives have resulted in more than 60 peer-reviewed publications to date. She serves on numerous germplasm committees and was a recipient of the 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary’s Honor Award for her work with the Maize Diversity Project.

Portrait of Sherry Flint-Garcia.
Dr. Sherry Flint-Garcia

Dr. Bernd Schnabl, MD Professor of Medicine, Director, San Diego Digestive Diseases Research Center, University of California San Diego
Topic: Microbiota-based therapies for liver disease

Bernd Schnabl is a trained gastroenterologist and physician-scientist. He received his MD degree from the University Freiburg in Germany. After finishing his residency in internal medicine, he completed a gastroenterology fellowship at Columbia University in New York City. He joined the Division of Gastroenterology at UC San Diego in 2008 and he is currently Professor of Medicine. He is staff physician and attending at the VA San Diego Medical Center in La Jolla and the UCSD Medical Center. He is the Director of the NIH-funded San Diego Digestive Diseases Research Center (SDDRC). His research focus is to understand the complex multi-directional interactions that occur between the gut microbiota and the liver. Dr. Schnabl has published extensively in such highly-regarded journals as Nature, Nature Communications, Cell Host & Microbe, Journal of Clinical Investigation and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and he has authored multiple reviews and book chapters. Dr. Schnabl is the principal investigator of a VA Merit Award, several NIH, foundation and industry-sponsored grants. He serves as Associate Editor for Journal of Hepatology.

Portrait of Bernd Schnabl.
Dr. Bernd Schnabl MD

Dr. Patrick Veiga Director of Health and Microbiome Science at Danone Nutricia Research
Topic: Taking it to the streets—commercializing innovation in the diet-microbiome space

Patrick Veiga, is the Director of Health and Microbiome Science at Danone Nutricia Research. He leads a team of senior scientists dedicated to study the interplay between diet, probiotics gut microbiome, gut health and gut -brain. Patrick received his PhD in microbiology from the Université of Orsay-Paris XI in 2007 and joined Danone Nutricia Research in 2008 with the mission to investigate the interplay between probiotics and gut microbiota, an emerging field at that time. In 2011, he was appointed visiting scientist in the group of Prof. W. Garrett (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA) where he spent 3 years studying the mechanisms of action of probiotics and their interactions with the gut microbiome in an inflammatory context. In 2014, he took the lead of the gut microbiota research program in Danone Nutricia Research and 3 years later took over the science group called Microbes & Foods for Health. In 2019, he was appointed Health and Microbiome Science Director. Patrick collaborated with a broad range of leading scientists in the field of microbiome and co-authored papers published in high-profile journals.

Portrait of Dr. Patrick Veiga.
Dr. Patrick Veiga

Gareth Asten Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Acre Venture Partners
Topic: From Seed to Success: Understanding the Opportunities and Barriers to Product Commercialization

Gareth Asten is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Acre Venture Partners, a Santa Monica, CA based venture fund primarily focused on disruptive technologies, products and services for better outcomes in the food system. Prior to founding Acre, Gareth was a key executive team member in multiple leveraged buyouts, including Bolthouse Farms. Early in his career Gareth worked in private equity and investment banking at Willis Stein & Partners and Lazard, respectively. Gareth holds a BS from DePaul University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a trustee at Windward School in Los Angeles and is also a Board Member of Kiss The Ground, a non-profit focused on educating various stakeholders on the benefits of regenerative farming practices.

Portrait of Gareth Asten.
Gareth Asten

Ivan Wasserman Managing Partner, Amin Talati Wasserman, LLP
Topic: From Seed to Success-- Understanding the Opportunities and Barriers to Product Commercialization

Ivan Wasserman is the Managing Partner of the leading regulatory, intellectual property, and litigation law firm Amin Talati Wasserman LLP.   The firm  is dedicated to the food, dietary supplement, and cosmetic industries, and helps companies of all sizes develop products and create and execute marketing campaigns that are both legally compliant and effective.  Ivan and his team represent clients in matters involving the FDA, the FTC, State Attorneys General, class action litigation, trademarks and patents, and ingredient safety issues including GRAS, NDI, and Prop 65 analyses.  Ivan is also counsel to the International Probiotics Association, and has been  included in “Best Lawyers in America” from 2007 to 2021.

Portrait of Ivan Wasserman.
Ivan Wasserman

Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders Dairy & Food Culture Technologies
Topic: Substantiation, standardization, and regulatory—what is the proper space for “Food for Health” products?

Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, is a consultant in the area of probiotic microbiology (www.mesanders.com). She works internationally with food and supplement companies to understand probiotic science, develop new probiotic products, and offer perspective on paths to scientific substantiation of probiotic product label claims. She is the current chair of the United States Pharmacopeia’s Probiotics Expert Panel, was a member of the working group convened by the FAO/WHO that developed guidelines for probiotics, and serves on the World Gastroenterology Organisation Guidelines Committee preparing practice guidelines for the use of probiotics and prebiotics for gastroenterologists. She serves as Executive Science Officer for the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, an organization she helped cofounded with Prof. Glenn Gibson in 2002.

Portrait of Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders.
Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders

Dr. Joël Doré Research Director, INRAE Micalis Institute, France
Topic: Complexity of the problem II - what are the best dietary components for targeting the microbiome to improve human health?

Joël Doré is Research Director at INRAE Micalis Institute “Food and Gut Microbiology for Human Health” (www.micalis.fr) and Scientific Director of MetaGenoPolis (www.mgps.eu), offering unique expertise in quantitative and functional metagenomics. A gut microbial ecologist by training, Joël pioneered intestinal metagenomics towards food-microbe-host interactions as well as diagnostic applications. With more than 35 years of academic research and more than 230 publications (H Index 69), Joël aims to provide a better understanding of man-microbes symbiosis towards personalized preventive nutrition and precision medicine. Joël is laureate of the ERC-Advanced Homo.symbiosus; and co-founder and scientific advisor of www.maat-pharma.com, a startup company dedicated to provide safe and standardized microbiotherapy solutions for the reconstruction of host-microbes symbiosis in the context of cancer therapy. As a member of the board of directors of GMfH, he supports the www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com scientific web-platform.

Portrait of Dr. Joël Doré.
Dr. Joël Doré

Dr. Andy Benson Professor, University of Nebraska – Lincoln and Director, Nebraska Food for Health Center
Topic: Opportunities and challenges for microbiome active trait breeding in crop plants

Andy Benson is Professor of Food Science and Technology at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Food for Health Presidential Chair and Director at the Nebraska Food for Health Center. He has a PhD in microbiology from University of Texas Health Science Center in Texas. In 2017, Dr. Benson established the Nebraska Food for Health Center, a $40.3 million collaboration among academic researchers, food and drug manufacturers and philanthropists to improve human health by linking agriculture and food production to wellness and disease prevention through microbiome research. Benson is a pioneer in studying the gut microbiome as a complex trait, demonstrating how individual host genetic factors control microbial species that make up the microbiome. He has received more than $25 million in competitive grant funding and in 2019 was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for Neogen’s genomics operations and serves as a consultant and expert witness for applications of bacterial genomics and population genetics in litigation for foodborne outbreaks and product labeling.

Portrait of Dr. Andy Benson.
Dr. Andy Benson

Dr. Colleen Cutcliffe CEO, Pendulum Therapeutics
Topic: Substantiation, standardization, and regulatory—what is the proper space for “Food for Health” products?

Colleen Cutcliffe is the CEO and Co-Founder of Pendulum Therapeutics. Pendulum is a startup company based in San Francisco that uses biological and computational insights into the microbiome to develop interventions for a variety of health and disease conditions. Using this discovery platform, Pendulum has created the world’s first and only microbiome intervention that has been clinically shown to reduce blood sugar spikes and A1C. Pendulum Glucose Control is helping people improve their sugar metabolism by restoring our body’s natural capabilities. Pendulum’s key investors include the Mayo Clinic, Meritech Capital, Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures and True Ventures. Colleen has over 20 years of experience managing and leading teams in biotech, pharma and academia. Before starting Pendulum, Colleen served as the Senior Manager of Biology at Pacific Biosciences, which is where she met her two co-founders. Prior to that, Colleen was a Scientist at Elan Pharmaceuticals. Colleen completed her postdoctoral research at Northwestern’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins University and received her B.A. in Biochemistry from Wellesley College. Colleen currently resides in Menlo Park, CA with her husband, 2 daughters, 2 dogs, and 2 birds and 2 chinchillas...all contributing to a diverse microbiome!

Portrait of Dr. Colleen Cutcliffe.
Dr. Colleen Cutcliffe

Dr. Mark Morrison Professor, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Australia
Topic: Dietary Components and Modulation of the Gut Microbiome—what does the catalogue look like?

Mark Morrison’s scientific expertise resides in the fields of microbial physiology, genetics and genomics, with a career-long focus on the gastrointestinal microbiota of humans and other herbivores. During his academic tenure in the USA, he led the team that produced the first genome sequences for gut Ruminococcus and Prevotella spp. He returned to Australia in 2006 as a CSIRO Science Leader, leading the gut health stream of their Preventative Health Flagship Program, and one of CSIRO’s five Capability Platforms (in Transformational Biology). He joined the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute in October 2013, and is currently science lead for gastrointestinal function with the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and microbiome research for the new Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’s Centre for Research Excellence in Digestive Health. He is also Australia’s science representative to the International Human Microbiome Consortium, and serves on other international academic and industry advisory boards for gut microbiome research.

Portrait of Dr. Mark Morrison.
Dr. Mark Morrison

Dr. Seth C. Murray Professor, Texas A&M University
Topic: Opportunities and challenges for microbiome active trait breeding in crop plants

Seth Murray received his PhD from Cornell University and a BS from Michigan State University. His research program focuses on new approaches in high-throughput field phenotyping (including unmanned aerial vehicles, i.e. drones), quantitative genetic discovery, gene to phene data analytics and applied maize (corn) breeding in Texas, as well as perenniality in maize and sorghum. He has released 9 maize lines, some having been licensed and currently grown by Texas farmers, including proprietary hybrids for whiskey. A major focus and success of his program is graduate student training, chairing 33 committees and serving on another 32 committees. He has co-authored 79 peer reviewed articles, and served in leadership roles for the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) and the North American Plant Phenotyping Network (NAPPN). He is a recipient of both CSSA and NAPB early career research awards, a fellow of CSSA and was twice named a Blavatnik Young Life Sciences finalist. In 2016-2017 he served as the Senior Advisor of Agricultural Systems in the Office of the Chief Scientist at USDA. He founded and serves as Editor of The Plant Phenome Journal, an ASA and CSSA publication.

Portrait of Dr. Seth C. Murray.
Dr. Seth C. Murray

Dr. Paul Ross Director, Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center, Cork Ireland
Topic: Plenary Session: Food for Health and Why it Matters

Paul Ross is Director of the APC Microbiome Ireland. He was appointed the Head of Food Research at Teagasc (which included Moorepark and Ashtown Food Research Centres), before moving to UCC to become the Head of College of Science Engineering & Food Science at UCC. In 2016 he also took up the position of Deputy Head of APC Microbiome Ireland. In 2019, Paul became the Director of APC Microbiome Ireland. He is a Principal Investigator in the APC’s Microbes to Molecules Research Theme. He received the William C. Haines Dairy Science award in 2007 and the Enterprise Ireland Commercialization award in 2008. He was awarded a D.Sc. in 2009 based on published work and in 2010, Paul became a member of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), in recognition of academic achievement. In 2015, he was honored in Thomson Reuters ‘The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds, 2015.’ For three years in a row (since 2017) Paul has featured in the ‘Highly Cited Researchers’ list produced by Clarivate Analytics for the Web of Science. In 2017, he received the ADSA (American Dairy Science Association) Distinguished Service Award which recognizes unusually outstanding and consistent contributions to the welfare of the dairy industry. He is the author on over 800 peer-reviewed papers in addition to 24 Patents.

Portrait of Dr. Paul Ross.
Dr. Paul Ross

Dr. Sibyl Swift Vice President, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, cbdMD, Inc.
Topic: Substantiation, standardization, and regulatory—what is the proper space for “Food for Health” products?

Sibyl Swift, Ph.D. is the Vice President for Scientific & Regulatory Affairs for cbdMD and the co-chair of cbdMD Therapeutics. As VP for cbdMD, she directs the company’s research partnerships, clinical trials, advises on regulatory matters, and provides guidance on good manufacturing practices. Prior to joining cbdMD, Dr. Swift was the Senior Vice President for Scientific & Regulatory Affairs at the Natural Products Association (NPA). In that role, Dr. Swift was responsible for the development and implementation of the association’s education, regulatory, and compliance programs and effort, such as the Supplement Safety and Compliance Initiative (SSCI), the NPA Natural Standard, and others. She represented the association on Codex Alimentarius (an international standards organization) and provided guidance on claims reviews, substantiation, and regulatory policy. Before joining NPA, Dr. Swift was the Associate Director for Research and Strategy within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Dietary Supplement Programs. As Associate Director, Dr. Swift directed the office’s research portfolio and was responsible for ensuring alignment between its science, research, compliance, enforcement, and policy initiatives. Dr. Swift was also the co-chair of the Botanical Safety Consortium, a collaboration between scientists from government agencies, academia, and industry. Dr. Swift earned her Ph.D. in nutrition and M.S. in physiology at Texas A&M University. She is currently a member of the American Society for Nutrition.

Portrait of Dr. Sibyl Swift.
Dr. Sibyl Swift

Dr. Alan Walker Senior Lecturer / Principal Investigator, Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, UK
Topic: Integrating prevention in susceptible individuals into disease management strategies

Alan Walker is a microbiologist with specific research interests in the bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tracts of mammalian hosts. He is Senior Lecturer/Principal Investigator at The Rowett Institute within the University of Aberdeen, and his current research uses a combination of anaerobic culturing and DNA sequencing techniques to better characterise gut microbial communities and shed light on the roles these microbes play both in health and in disease. Much of his current research is focussed on interactions between host diet and the gut microbiota, and on the impact that diet-responsive gut bacteria may play in protecting the host against infectious disease.

Portrait of Dr. Alan Walker.
Dr. Alan Walker