The great potential of prebiotics and probiotics for the improvement of public health remains largely unrealized. This one-day conference, "Probiotics, Prebiotics, and the Host Microbiome: The Science of Translation," jointly presented by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics and The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences on June 12, 2013, will explore and have important, broad impact on our understanding of the strong convergence of prebiotic and probiotic biology and its role within the human microbiome framework, thereby informing development of future strategies to translate this knowledge into innovative, economical, and population-wide nutritional and biotherapeutic applications of significant public health benefit. Anticipated to convene 200 attendees across a wide range of scientific and clinical disciplines, bacterial species, and regulatory/policy arenas, the meeting will: (i) Provide a neutral forum, through lectures, interactive panels, and networking activities, for discussing current and emerging concepts of prebiotic and probiotic biology, including the effect on the human microbiome - fostering the development of preventative and biotherapeutic strategies to manipulate the microbiome through functional foods;(ii) Showcase early career, female and underrepresented minority investigators via short talks, posters, awards, travel fellowships, and discounted registration;and (iii) Foster collaboration among junior and senior representatives from academia, clinical care, government and regulatory agencies, and the nutrition industry, to promote knowledge exchange leading to successful translation of research into improved interventions, therapies, and policy with regard to functional foods. The conference is especially timely given the increase in robust scientific evidence supporting the beneficial health effects of prebiotics and probiotics, providing great future potential to build on this knowledge. Examining this evidence in order to inform decision making by the public, health care professionals, and policymakers about the integration of prebiotics and probiotics as functional foods and biotherapeutics is particularly urgent in light of the clinical and economic challenges faced by global health care systems, such as the obesity epidemic and malnutrition. Thematically, the conference goals align well with the mission of NCCAM to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine interventions and their roles in improving health and health care. The inclusion of data relating to obesity, diabetes, and disorders of the gastrointestinal system also aligns well with the mission of the NIDDK. Publication of an enduring, open-access Meeting Report in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences will inform science policy and ultimately foster the integration of prebiotics and probiotics in health care recommendations for the prevention and treatment of a multitude of human diseases.
Prebiotics are functional food ingredients that have desirable effects on the composition and activity of the community of bacteria in the gut - the gut microbiota. Probiotics are live organisms that when ingested have beneficial effects on host health and wellbeing, either through direct interaction with the host physiology or indirectly through their influence on the composition of the gut microbiota and their interactive genomes - known as the gut microbiome. It is now recognized that the gut microbiome is closely linked to immune, metabolic, and neurological function in both health and disease. This one-day scientific conference, jointly presented by the Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences and the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, will have an important and broad impact on our understanding of prebiotic and probiotic biology and its role within the human microbiome framework. The conference will serve as a neutral forum to critically examine the potential population-wide economic and public health benefits of translating recent rigorous, evidence-based advances in prebiotic, probiotic, and microbiome research into innovative, nutritional and biotherapeutic applications. By specifically addressing the reasons underlying the strong, recent convergence of prebiotics, probiotics, and the human microbiome, this timely conference represents the next contribution to the field, by fostering the development of preventative and biotherapeutic strategies to manipulate the microbiome for the benefit of human health. This conference will convene approximately 200 visionary scientific investigators, public health strategists, and regulatory experts to drive forward research on diverse probiotic bacteria for a broad spectrum of therapeutic areas including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and malnutrition, and to engage in forward looking discussions. Open-access publication of the conference proceedings in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences will disseminate the scientific information exchanged at the meeting to the global research and medical communities, and also serve to inform public health and regulatory policy.