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Symposium features research on health through food and microbes

Talks highlighted the potential for microbes to improve global health and included a view of life in developing countries

Dr. Gregor Reid presenting at the symposium

Dr. Gregor Reid, Lawson scientist, professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and lead organizer of the symposium

The past decade has featured rapid acceleration in the study of microbes and how they influence human and planetary health. This includes the study of probiotics and their diverse benefits.

On Friday, May 4, Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) and Western University hosted a free public symposium on health through food and microbes.

With more than 80 attendees, the symposium covered dynamic areas of research that are collectively impacting society and human wellbeing. These include the critical role of honey bees in pollination, bioremediation of toxic compounds, fermented food, maternal and infant nutrition and how microbes can confer a range of health benefits. The topics included a view of life in developing countries and efforts to help people overcome many challenges.

The event was opened by Dr. Bing Gan, Lawson scientist, plastic surgeon at St. Joseph’s Health Care London and professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, who described his harrowing experience working for Doctors Without Borders in the Congo.

“We live in a microbial world, and beneficial ones are essential to the future of our planet and for human wellness and longevity,” says Dr. Gregor Reid, a scientist at Lawson, professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and lead organizer of this symposium. “The highly respected speakers at this event highlighted the potential for microbes to improve global health, and reminded us of the fragility of life on this planet.”

The event was made possible by a grant from the Gairdner Foundation for a lecture titled, “Food for 9.7 billion people,” by Dr. Rob Vos, Director Markets, Trade and Institutions, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC. The lecture was delivered by Dr. Reid as Dr. Vos unfortunately experienced travel delays.

The event also featured locally produced fermented foods provided by Booch and Nuts For Cheese.

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