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Dannon continues yogurt and gut microbiome exploration with $50,000 in fellowship grants

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Danone North America, particularly its Dannon yogurt brand, is looking to advance the yogurt and microbiome research.  ©GettyImages/TLFurrer
Danone North America, particularly its Dannon yogurt brand, is looking to advance the yogurt and microbiome research. ©GettyImages/TLFurrer
As part of Danone North America, the Dannon Probiotics Fellowship Grant Program has awarded two graduate students with $25,000 each to help fund their independent and novel studies of yogurt, probiotics, and the human gut microbiome.

As consumer interest in fermented foods related to gut health climbs, Dannon is looking to establish itself as a leader in the microbiome research.

“The impact of yogurt, probiotics and the gut microbiome has exceeded expectations and has been tied to brain, digestive and immune function… and top research institutions are pioneering new ways to study various aspects of its power and potential,” ​the company said.

"We recognize that supporting the pursuit of academic and scientific excellence will lead to meaningful advancements in the study of human health,"​ Miguel Freitas, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs at Danone North America, said.

Research in the pipeline

A committee of nutrition scientists selected Caroline Kelsey, a PhD candidate from the University of Virginia, and Yeonwoo Lebovitz, a doctoral candidate from Virginia Tech.

"The level of innovation and originality of the proposals was unprecedented​," Freitas said.

"It is evident that graduate students are leading the way with cutting-edge gut microbiome inquiries. At Danone North America, we are honored to help advance the field and support the future of these high-quality researchers."

Kelsey's research will examine how gut bacteria and food intake influence brain development, and Lebovitz's research will assess how a mother's gut microbiome can affect and protect her baby's neurological development. Both proposals employ contemporary methodology that will inform future investigations and enhance the understanding of how the gut influences key components of human health.

"The Dannon grant represents valuable affirmation from the greater yogurt and probiotics field that my research focus on the intersection of maternal health, gut microbiome, and neurodevelopment is a worthy area of study with real world relevance,"​ Lebovitz said.

According to Kelsey, her study will be the first to examine how both diet and the gut microbiome influence infant social-emotional and brain development over the first year of life.

"This project also promises to inform the development of probiotics," she added.

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