Koen Venema

About him: Koen Venema is i) Professor at University Maastricht - campus Venlo, ii) founder and CEO of Beneficial Microbes Consultancy, iii) organizer of the Beneficial Microbe Conference-series, and iv) editor-in-chief of Beneficial Microbes. He received his PhD from the University of Groningen, on the antimicrobial activity of bacteriocins produced by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) in 1995. He pursued the health-beneficial activity of these microbes as a Post-Doc at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA, where he studied the potential of LAB to function as carrier for vaccines. Thereafter, he was employed by TNO for > 15 years, where he used the sophisticated, dynamic, computer-controlled in vitro models of the gastro-intestinal tract (nick-named TIM) to study the effect of functional foods and drugs on the colonic microbiota. He has led many multi-disciplinary projects on the role of pro- and prebiotics and the gut microbiota on health of the host. In the period 2004-2014 he has been project leader of two projects within the Public Private Partnership TI Food & Nutrition. Within these multidisciplinary projects his research was devoted to  the effect of the microbiota on gut health and obesity using, amongst others, the TNO in vitro models, and the interaction of fibers and probiotics with the immune system of the host. Since Sept. 01, 2014 he runs a newly established research group at UM – campus Venlo, where the focus is on the effects of the gut microbiota on the host, and where he continues to use the TNO in vitro models.

About his talk - 13 November, Session 3: "Whole grains, microbiota and possible host health effects"

The gut microbiota has been shown to be involved in health and disease, ranging from diseases in the gut, to disorders such as obesity, allergy, and even autism. The composition and activity of the microbiota can be modulated using diet(ary components), such as undigestible carbohydrates/prebiotics or bioactive molecules in whole grains, which can affect the gut microbiota.