Grants offered for keen young probiotics researchers

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Probiotics, science, Scientific method, Research, Global probiotics council

Companies active in the probiotics field are aiming to expand scientific knowledge of the relationship between probiotics, gastrointestinal microbiota and the body, with two new $50,000 research grants.

Interest in priobiotics has rocketed recently as more people have become tuned into the potential benefits. Global sales, including dietary supplements and ingredients, are expected to reach $19.8bn within four years, according to BCC Research; and just this week the production of a new documentary series was announced, with the first episode called ‘Probiotics – Micro Warriors of the Digestive Tract’.

To help promote probiotic and build relationships with researchers and institutions, Danone and Yakult formed the Global Probiotics Council (GPC) in 2004. For the last two years the partners have offered funding for young investigators to carry out new research on probiotics.

“The quality of applicants and the calibre of science that we saw the past two years were exceptional and we expect to se the same this year, as the level of interest in probiotics continues to rise with emerging science,”​ said Sven Thormahlen, executive vice president for R&D at Danone.

This year the focus is on the role of probiotics and gastrointestinal mictobiota, and the goal is to provide preliminary data that will attract future funding from the National Institute of Health and other sources.

The rules state that applicants, who may be senior fellows with a committed faculty appointment or faculty members with a max of five years of their first appointment, must be in the United States.

However Yoshihiro Kawabata, senior managing director of Yakult Honsha Co in Japan, said he hopes the program has global reach.

“In Japan, we have a long history of working with probiotics and we are committed to supporting education and raising awareness on their benefits,”​ he said.

The GPC has said that if the research project involves the use of potential probiotics, investigators must not work on commercial strains. Research on publicly available, non-commercial strains of potential probiotics is acceptable, however.

Further details, including information on applying for the Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research, can be found at www.probioticsresearch.com

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