Every year, the universities of Belgium pull together to organize a general symposium on applied bio(techno)logy. This year, it was the 25th edition of the National Symposium for Applied Biological Sciences, held at the beautiful campus Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech of the University of Liège.
The University of Antwerp was again well represented, with 11 researchers, of which 8 LebeerLab-members, mostly junior researchers and starting PhD students. Postdoctoral researchers Dieter Vandenheuvel and Irina Spacova were part of the Organizing Committee of this edition. Our PhD students presented their research to the broader public with a nice poster, and gained quite some interest from their peers, other researchers and company representatives present. Two of our students, Eline Cauwenberghs and Sarah Ahannach, were even selected to present their poster with a flash talk of one minute during the “Food technology, safety & health” and “biotechnology” plenary meetings. Eline’s research will further study the potential of our nasopharyngeal isolates as probiotic for the upper respiratory tract. This research was started at the lab 5 years ago, with the isolation of one of our most potent strains, and is now evolving to safety studies in humans. Sarah showed that during the first trimester of pregnancy, the vaginal microbiome of women in Flanders can be differentiated into 5 different profiles.
The present public could vote for the best poster. We are proud to announce that our PhD student Tom Eilers won the best poster award. His poster shows the practical flow-through of the discovery of a novel and unexpected cellulase in some strains of Lactobacillus mudanjiangensis, starting from the discovery via bio-informatics to the experimental proof. Apart from the nice present Tom has won, it is also a great recognition of the public’s interest in the research on the genetic annotation of novel characteristics we’ve identified in our beneficial lactobacilli.
The conference was concluded with some refreshments and locally brewed beer, and a possibility to network and catch up with our colleagues at the other universities. Proud of our poster winners, and thankful to everyone who voted, we returned homewards. We could all conclude that the organization succeeded again in making a successful edition of NSABS! We are looking forward to next year!