Danone announces 2018-2019 Fellowship Grant


Danone North America announces it is awarding two graduate students $25,000 each for the 7th year in a row. As the name indicates, the grant is designed for graduate students to study the role of the gut microbiome, yogurt and probiotics for human health.


Scientists in the field have found that the microbial community or microbiome of the gut affects not only gastrointestinal health, but has links to the brain, immune system and even our circadian clocks. The fitness of the gut microbiome has also been associated with chronic disease risk, such as for cardiovascular disease or certain cancers.  


“Danone North America recognizes that scientists have made great strides in identifying the role and importance of the human gut microbiome. They have also found that the food we eat can have an immediate and dramatic impact on the makeup of our microbiome,” says Miguel Freitas, PhD, Vice President of Scientific Affairs at Danone North America. “As a top food company in the U.S., with a portfolio of fresh dairy, organic dairy, plant-based, fresh foods and beverages, we see it as part of our purpose to help support these advancements. Grants for graduate studies are vital investments in the future of human health research.”


The interest in microbiomes has exploded since the launch of Common Fund’s Human Microbiome Project (HMP) Human Microbiome Project by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2007. While there is a better understanding of what a “normal” human microbiome looks like, how its controlled or how it can be changed hasn’t been elucidated. When it comes to the gut microbiome, there is a focus on how pre- or pro-biotics aid in treatment and prevention of disease, or enhance resilience or performance. Recipients of the Danone North America Fellowship Grant will support these efforts by exploring how the gut microbiome, yogurt and probiotics help sustain human health and wellness through growth, development and longevity.


“Danone North America’s promise is to nourish lives and sustain a healthier world through food,” says Dr. Freitas. “To meet our goals, we believe it’s imperative to support creative, scientific minds with a shared commitment to enhancing human health. With each grant, we make meaningful progress in fulfilling our purpose.”


Danone North America made a commitment to use business as a force for good, balancing financial interests with the social and environmental benefits for people, communities and the planet. As a public benefit corporation (PBC), it declared becoming a Certified B Corp by 2020 a top priority. Ahead of schedule, they did so in April 2018, making them the largest PBC and B Corp in the world. Among their achievements, the Danone North America Fellowship Grant has enabled up-and-coming scientists to make strides in the interdisciplinary fields of biology, health sciences, nutrition, yogurt and probiotics.


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