“The vaginal microbiome: key for women’s health & healthy newborns”, Dr. Sarah Lebeer
From Suzanne Pellegrini
Microbes and Social Equity speaker series 2023
This series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field.
I would like to thank the UMaine Institute of Medicine and the UMaine Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Committee for their support for this series, and acknowledge the work of our MSE members helping to organize this: Emily Wissel, Katherine Daiy, Kieran O’Doherty, Hannah Holland-Moritz, Mallory Choudoir, and Mustafa Saifuddin. I would also like to recognize that the University of Maine is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation.
Our presentation today is “The vaginal microbiome: key for women’s health & healthy newborns”, Dr. Sarah Lebeer.
Dr. Sarah Lebeer is a research professor at the Department of Bioscience Engineering of the University of Antwerp, Belgium. She has studied bioscience engineering, with a specialisation in cell and gene biotechnology, and food and health. She obtained her Master’s degree at KU Leuven (Belgium) in 2004. In 2008, she obtained a PhD degree in Bioscience Engineering with a topic on probiotics and inflammatory bowel diseases (KU Leuven). After a postdoc on the interaction between lactobacilli, viruses and mucosal immunology, Sarah was offered a tenure track position in applied microbiology and biotechnology at the Department of Bioscience Engineering of the University of Antwerp in Nov 2011. In 2020, Sarah obtained an ERC StG Grant (Lacto-Be) that enables her to gain in-depth knowledge of the evolutionary history and ecology of lactobacilli. Within this ERC project, Sarah has launched the Isala citizen-science project to gain new insights in the ecology and role of vaginal lactobacilli for women’s health, but also to actively involve women to contribute with ideas on how to improve vaginal health and break some taboos together (https://isala.be/en). This project has won the communication award from the Young Academy and Royal Academy of Science KVAB in 2021.