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An Educational Symposium

The Health Impact of Active Cultures:

September 29, 2006
Washington, DC


There is a long history of probiotics being used around the world for health promotion and for preventive and therapeutic purposes. During the past decade a quickly growing body of evidence suggests that certain probiotics can be used in the diet to prevent illness and/or to improve certain body functions. Several studies demonstrate that these bacteria have beneficial effects on mucosal barrier dysfunctions, immune function and enhancing colonization resistance capacity of the commensal flora.

Even though the majority of published data involve the use of probiotics to prevent and treat gastrointestinal infections, the potential functions of these microorganisms may extend far beyond what was originally conceptualized, including demonstrated impact on development of allergy and in helping to manage irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Upon completion of this course, attendees will have acquired critical background information and practical knowledge on the state of the science of probiotics and an understanding of clinical applications for current preventive practices, treatments and health promoting approaches for patients of all ages.


  • To clearly define the term probiotics and explain the characteristics of probiotics and probiotic foods.
  • To update the practicing family physician on recent scientific developments regarding the value of probiotics in health care for patients of all ages.
  • To present recommendations to the practicing family physician for incorporating probiotics into the lives of patients of all ages.


Our world-class panel of speakers is comprised of highly esteemed, leading researchers and medical doctors in the fields of gastroenterology, nutrition, and pediatrics, who have closely examined the beneficial role that probiotics play in gut functions in family practice patients.

Daniel Merenstein, MD, is a graduate of Brandeis University and Jefferson Medical College. He completed his residency at Fairfax Family Practice in VA, where he was chief resident. Dr. Merenstein was in clinical practice for three years in Northern Virginia and then returned for more training at Johns Hopkins University to complete a 2 year Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellow. After this Dr. Merenstein joined the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University where he directs their practice-based research network, CAPRICORN. His research is focused on the interface between evidenced based medicine and complementary and alternative medicine. He also sees patients two days a week.

Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, is an internationally recognized consultant in the area of probiotic microbiology. She has extensively reviewed technical literature on probiotics, published on the science and marketing of probiotic bacteria, coordinated clinical studies to validate probiotic efficacy, and updated the FDA on the topic of probiotics. She serves on the newly created Product Quality Working Group of the NIH National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She received her B.S. in Food Science at University of California at Davis, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Food Science with an emphasis in microbiology at NC State University in Raleigh. Dr. Sanders has served as President of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) since 2002. Her previous research focused on selection of lactic starter bacteria, in vitro characterization and identification of probiotic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, evaluation of the effect of probiotics on fecal microecology and tracking specific probiotics through the gastrointestinal tract.

W. Allan Walker, MD, is the Conrad Taff Professor of Nutrition and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He is also Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the Director of the Division of Nutrition (DON) at Harvard Medical School and the Principal Investigator of a NIH-supported Clinical Nutrition Research Center within the Harvard community. His research program examines the basic mechanisms for protective nutrient function and then through translational research attempts to apply these observations to clinical trials and eventually to recommendations for clinical care.

Martin Floch, MD, is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Director of Ambulatory Gastrointestinal Services in the Digestive Disease Section of Yale University School of
Medicine, where he practices clinical medicine and is Editor of the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. His interest in probiotics dates back to his basic research on identifying the anaerobic flora in health and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. He is a Master of the American College of Gastroenterology and edited and published the text “Netter’s Gastroenterology.”

Simin Meydani, DVM, PhD, is Chief of the Immunology Laboratory and Senior Scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. She is also a Professor of Nutrition at Tufts School of Nutrition and Immunology at the Sackler Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Her specific area of research examines changes that occur in the immune system in response to aging and various nutrients. Dr. Meydani has co-authored several influential studies that have appeared in key medical journals including the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the American Journal of Physiology, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Meydani earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Tehran, Iran. She received a doctorate in Nutrition from Iowa State University.

Yehuda Ringel, MD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He has extensive clinical experience in gastroenterology and functional GI disorders. Dr. Ringel’s research focuses on physiological and psychological mechanisms related to functional GI disorders. He is extensively involved in clinical trials evaluating new drugs and treatment approaches for functional GI disorders. Dr. Ringel has published several journal articles and book chapters related to functional GI disorders and has received many awards for his work, including the AGA Award for Clinical Research in IBS/Motility. He received his medical degree at the Technion - The Israeli Institute of Technology, and he has been a faculty member at UNC since 2001.


Registration and Dinner

W. Allan Walker, MD
Director, Division of Nutrition,
Harvard Medical School;
Director of Mucosal Immunology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital; Conrad Taff Professor of Nutrition, Harvard Medical School
Welcome and Introduction
Daniel Merenstein, MD
Georgetown University Medical Center

What, Why and When?

Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD
President of International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP)

Applications of Probiotics
in Pediatrics

W. Allan Walker, MD
Division of Nutrition,
Harvard Medical School

Could Probiotics
Help the Elderly?

Simin Meydani, DVM, PhD
Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University

Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
What’s the Role of Probiotics?

Yehuda Ringel, MD
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Recommendations for Probiotic Use

Martin Floch, MD
Yale University School of Medicine
General Discussion and
Closing Remarks

Presented by Harvard Medical School Division of Nutrition

Made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from
The Dannon Company, Inc. and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd

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