Gregor Reid, Francisco Spain

Reflections on ISAPP’s Legacy, A Commentary by Gregor Reid, former ISAPP President and current ISAPP Board Member.

As I travel this January 27th 2016 on the speed train from Madrid to Seville in the south of Spain, I review the program of the 7th Workshop Probioticos, Prebioticos y Salud: Evidencia Cientifica. Initiated by former ISAPP Board Member Dr Francisco (affectionately Pancho) Guarner, the organization has grown to the point of hosting over 400 delegates this year.

 

It is yet another indicator of the legacy of ISAPP and the growth of these areas stimulated by consumer demand, industry engagement and clinical evidence. With other such organizations in India, Indonesia, Poland and perhaps elsewhere, the network is captivating.

 

A recent paper conceptualized by Irene Lenior-Wijnkoop, the pioneer industry supporter of ISAPP, ‎shows the enormous economic benefit of probiotics to nations and healthcare systems. In hospitals around the world, including one in my hometown of London, Ontario, premature babies now have a lower risk of potentially deadly necrotizing enterocolitis through probiotics. At other sites, bulk transplantation of beneficial microbes is saving lives.

 

As the Spanish countryside whisks by, just as it did two weeks ago in Holland and two months ago in China, I can’t help but reflect on the passing of time and the rapidity of advances in our fields since we collectively began this journey in 2002.  The telegraph poles, trees, animals, forests, roads and buildings that form the human influenced ecosystem‎ appear like multiple nodes affected by pro and prebiotics. The wonders of nature.

 

The conference reflects this, with talks on the virome, cardiovascular disease, diet, reproduction, infectious diseases, gastric liver and lung diseases, allergies and so much more.

 

Sometimes it feels like our progress and ability to translate our work to humans and animals is like a small flower on the horizon. ‎But with water and sun, the seeds spread and the landscape ignites with colour. It might sound overly romantic, but we are the water and the sun, and our job is to nurture these through science and showing the benefits of the cultures.

 

At this meeting, I will be reminding the audience that the amazing blessings we each have did not start by chance, but as a gift. It is our duty to humankind and the duty of rich corporations to make sure all people of the planet have access to a healthy future through microbes. It’s actually not as difficult as it sounds. It just takes commitment.

 

Empower the poor and they will show you the path to life.