The Science, Microbes & Health Podcast
This podcast covers emerging topics and challenges in the science of probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, postbiotics and fermented foods. This is the podcast of The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), a nonprofit scientific organization dedicated to advancing the science of these fields.
Reflections on the probiotic field and ISAPP’s role, with Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders PhD
In this episode, the ISAPP podcast hosts talk about how the probiotic field has evolved over the past 20 years with Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders PhD, ISAPP’s outgoing executive director. She describes how ISAPP is a unique organization advancing the science in the field, highlights what she has enjoyed about being a part of the ISAPP community, and looks ahead to the future of the field.
Key topics from this episode:
- Sanders describes her career path and how it led to her role with ISAPP.
- Both ISAPP and Sanders’ role have changed over time, but she always appreciated two things: great scientific discussions, and interacting with an excellent board of directors.
- ISAPP has always been dedicated to following the science, highlighting where the evidence is but also the shortcomings of the evidence.
- The development of microbiome science changed the field of probiotics but it remains important to focus on what probiotics can do for health, rather than what they can do for the microbiome.
- Mechanisms are important to elucidate, but the most important thing is whether a product impacts health.
- Sanders says regulations are needed and in the future she hopes regulators will reach out to the expert scientists more frequently and be clear about the standards they expect for a claim.
- ISAPP meetings are unique–both scientifically enlightening and a lot of fun. Longtime ISAPP board member Gregor Reid had the initial idea for the successful ‘discussion groups’ held every year.
- In the future, Sanders thinks probiotics will be used more precisely, like medicines. But also the concept of live dietary microbes may become more popular, with quantities of safe microorganisms being consumed for health benefits.
- Read about Todd Klaenhammer, a well-known food microbiologist who supervised Sanders as a graduate student.
- Early paper by Mary Ellen Sanders (1993): Effect of Consumption of Lactic Cultures on Human Health
- An overview of ISAPP activities is found here.
- The ISAPP-linked scientific papers on live dietary microbes:
- Should There Be a Recommended Daily Intake of Microbes?
- A Classification System for Defining and Estimating Dietary Intake of Live Microbes in US Adults and Children
- Positive Health Outcomes Associated with Live Microbe Intake from Foods, Including Fermented Foods, Assessed using the NHANES Database
About Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders PhD:
Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD has served in several roles within ISAPP. She was the founding president, executive science officer and executive director and has retired from ISAPP as of June 30, 2023. She is also a consultant in the area of probiotic microbiology. She works internationally with food and supplement companies to develop new probiotic products and offers perspective on paths to scientific substantiation of probiotic product label claims. She is the current chair of the United States Pharmacopeia’s Probiotics Expert Panel, was a member of the working group convened by the FAO/WHO that developed guidelines for probiotics and serves on the World Gastroenterology Organisation Guidelines Committee preparing practice guidelines for the use of probiotics and prebiotics for gastroenterologists.