Featured Speakers

The conference will host speakers addressing various topics  over areas of food, agriculture, medicine, and the human gut microbiota.

Dr. Laure Bindels Assistant Professor at the 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. Bruce German Professor, University of California, Davis
Topic: Food for health and why it matters.

Dr. 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: Food for health and why it matters.

Dr. 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

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?

Dr. 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

Topic: Dietary Components and Modulation of the Gut Microbiome -- what does the catalogue look like?

Dr. 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

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

Topic: Complexity of the problem -- the challenge of understanding complex interactions between diet, microbiome, host, and health/disease across populations of humans.

Dr. 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.
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.
Vince Young