Danone North America announced the recipients of the 2022-2023 Annual Gut Microbiome, Yogurt and Probiotic Fellowship Program. Congratulations to Madison Adamthwaite of Harvard University and Nam Than of The University of Texas at Austin who have been awarded $25,000 each to conduct research which will help to further the understanding of the gut microbiome, yogurt and probiotics. 

The 2022-2023 program marks 11 years and more than half a million dollars' worth of grants awarded to empower creative minds and nurture scientific advances, Danone North America states.

The impact of yogurt, probiotics and the gut microbiome may be linked to full-body health impacts including brain, digestive and immune function. Unsurprisingly, consumer interest in probiotic-rich foods, immune health and gut health has soared — and top research institutions are pioneering new ways to study various aspects of its power, potential and influence. 

Research confirms that consumers are particularly interested in the connection between gut health and the immune system as they continue to seek out products that are tailored to help improve specific health and wellness issues.

"It is Danone North America's mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible and this fellowship grant helps us do just that," says Miguel Freitas, Ph.D., vice president of health and scientific affairs at Danone North America. "Both Madison Adamthwaite and Nam Than are poised to conduct successful studies and have impactful careers that will contribute to meaningful scientific discoveries and expand our understanding of probiotics, the gut microbiome, and human health."

Recipient Nam Than's research has the potential to be groundbreaking in that it may help researchers understand how Next-Generation Probiotics (NGP) play a role in maintaining gut homeostasis or even disease prevention. "Receiving the grant is both an honorable accomplishment and an important milestone. I am looking forward to pushing the boundaries of knowledge in the field of probiotics through this grant," Than said. "I am excited about completing this research proposal as it will provide actionable biomedical knowledge for NGP development that could make a meaningful impact on human health."

With 25% of Americans suffering from metabolic issues, Madison Adamthwaite's research aims to provide an avenue to better understand the biology of the gut microbiome while developing novel probiotics to improve health. Adamthwaite will identify the molecular mechanisms by which microbiome-derived metabolites alter health with a particular focus on gallic acid, a metabolite shown to protect from cardiovascular events and other health concerns. 

Additionally, she hopes to develop a novel probiotic capable of gallic acid overproduction to generate enriched yogurt for health benefits. "It is an incredible opportunity to be a recipient of the 2022-2023 Danone Fellowship Grant. Receiving this fellowship provides support for my research endeavors that are particularly focused on studying the vast array of metabolites produced by the gut microbiome," Adamthwaite says. "I'm honored to be sponsored by Danone, who shares my passion for uncovering the intricacies of the gut microbiome and developing probiotics to improve human health."

Danone’s Freitas notes that the field of probiotics and knowledge of the microbiome is evolving at “great speed,” and the company hopes that the projects funded this year will continue to accelerate society's understanding of the microbiome on human health. 

"The impact of the microbiome on human health is far-reaching, from benefits to our digestive and immune system, to playing a key role in our mind-body connection, which is why investments to better understand this unique ecosystem are so important,” he adds.

Established in 2010, the Danone Fellowship Grant provides funding for novel studies of yogurt, probiotics and the gut microbiome. Winners are chosen based on the quality of their proposals, faculty recommendations, and each of their studies' value to human health and wellness by a panel of judges with expertise in the field. 

As one of largest B Corps in the world, Danone North America is committed to use business as a force for good, balancing financial interests with social and environmental benefits for people, communities, and the planet. In late 2022, Danone North America committed to invest $4 million by 2030, in collaboration with the White House Conference on Hunger and Nutrition, to enhance nutrition and food security research. The 2023 Fellowship Grants for Gut Microbiome, Yogurt and Probiotic studies are a part of this commitment.