An international leader in probiotics research says New Zealand is in a unique position to utilise beneficial microbes to prevent and better treat a number of serious ailments in animals and humans, from pregnancy to chronic and fatal diseases.
Professor Gregor Reid from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, is a microbiology and immunology specialist whose work focuses on the role of bacteria in human and animal health.
"Few countries have the facilities, expertise in animal and agriculture science and ability to translate advances to directly impact humans," Professor Reid says.
Originally from Scotland, Professor Reid completed a PhD at Massey University in Manawatu in 1982 and will be back at the University this week speaking to scientists, alumni and other guests. Probiotics are live microorganisms, including lactic acid bacteria, bifidobacteria and some yeasts.
He is Western Ontario's Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Surgery and has an Endowed Chair in Human Microbiology and Probiotics at the Lawson Health Research Institute. He is also an inductee of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and has an Honorary Doctorate from Orebro University of Sweden. He has been awarded 28 patents, has 412 peer-reviewed publications, given 526 talks in 51 countries, and helped set up community kitchens in Tanzania and Kenya in which local mothers produce probiotic yogurt for around 3000 people each day, including orphans and many adults and children with HIV/AIDS.
This year he will be co-producing a documentary on probiotics, called The Origin and the Destiny, with a Hollywood production team, filming at labs around the world. He currently supervises eight PhD students (two in Holland, one from China, and one from Kenya), five master's students, three undergraduates and a medical student from the University of Otago.
In 2011 he was the recipient of a Massey University distinguished alumni award for his work. On Thursday he will talk about diet in terms of content and origin and our approach to managing disease in animals and humans. His lecture is at 5.30pm on February 7 in the AgHort Lecture Theatre, Massey University Manawatu campus.