Last Year’s Award Winners: 2017 IMGC Symposium

The International Milk Genomics Consortium (IMGC) held its 14th annual conference last September in Québec City, Canada. The theme of the symposium was “Moving Forward with Translational Milk Research to Advance Health.”

The conference included 34 speakers, 20 posters, and a steady stream of networking, facilitated (more like mandated) by the world-renowned milk scientist Bruce German. Throughout the course of the 2017 Symposium, founders of the IMGC made sure to reiterate their core belief that curiosity and collaboration are both critical to scientific success. All of our young awards winners have exhibited both of these attributes, along with the ability to give a great scientific presentation!

On behalf of the IMGC, we congratulate our 2017 Award Winners on their scientific successes. Maybe we’ll see them again this year?

Andrea Zukowski 

Andrea Zukowski, a student travel award winner from the University of Ottowa, gave a talk entitled “Next Generation Sequencing of Bovine Milk-Derived Exosomal MicroRNA to Determine Transcriptome Expression for Efficient Recovery from Mastitis Infection” (Geez! Try to say that five times fast!). The aim of this project is to model the flux of miRNA profiles in milk collected from mastitis-infected cows at different time points during and after antibiotic treatments in order to determine biomarkers of effective and efficient mastitis recovery. Andrea hypothesizes that understanding inter-herd variability patterns can be taken advantage of to treat cows with sub-optimal recovery times.


Alma Ryskallyeva

Alma Ryskaliyeva, from the Universite Paris-Saclay in France, won a student travel award for her presentation entitled “Alternative Splicing, a Fortuitous or Genetically Programmed Event to Expand Molecular Diversity of Milk Proteins: Camel CSN1S2, a Relevant Model to try to Provide some Response Elements.” Alma discussed the nuances and novelties of studying camel’s milk and highlighted the similarities and differences between different types of mammalian milks. Her group uses powerful proteomic (LC-MS, LC-MS/MS), genomic (RNA seq) and bioinformatic tools to better understand the diversity and evolution of milk gene variants and their expression across mammalian species.



Randall Robinson

For the second year in a row, Randall Robinsion, from the University of California, Davis, won a Student Travel Award to present his work at the IMGC. Randall’s presentation, entitled “Comparative Analysis of Bioactive Oligosaccharide Production in Dairy Cows Using Novel Analytical Techniques” focused on comparing the oligosaccharide abundance of Holstein and Jersey milk. Randall combines techniques such as isobaric labeling and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to improve the signal strength of large fucosylated oligosaccharides in large sample sets, with the end goal of improving the genomic selection of desirable milk traits.


Léa Guinot

Léa Guinot, from Université Laval, was a Student Travel Award recipient for her presentation entitled “Identification of Parameters Involved in Disintegration of Commercial Cheese Matrix and Lipid Digestion by Using an In Vitro Static Digestion Model.” Léa’s work aimed to identify the factors that influence cheese breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract. Her research investigated the differences in digestion between 9 different commercial cheeses and identified the most important attributes associated with digestion rate. This information can be used to beneficially alter the cheese matrix to influence the release of lipids and potentially affect postprandial lipemia.

Junai Gan

Junai Gan, from the University of California, Davis, was a recipient of an IMGC Student Travel Award for her presentation entitled “Milk as a Protein-Protease Delivery System: Collaborative Approaches Inspire Inquiry into the Dynamics and Complexities of Human Milk.” Junai’s work focuses on the proteolytic enzymes present in milk which can cleave large proteins down to smaller peptides for delivery to different sites along the digestive tract. Junai’s talk also hit on the benefits of scientific collaboration among individuals with differing perspectives. She went on to discuss her team of graduate and undergraduate researchers at UC Davis who are working together to build a better understanding of milk and its bioactive properties that can influence health.



Steven Frese

Steve Frese, was the winner of the Most Valuable Presentation award for his presentation at the 2016 IMGC Symposium in Davis, California. Steve’s award-winning talk titled “Rebuilding the Infant Gut Microbiome: Insights from Ecology and Evolution,” focused on the potential benefits of gut-focused therapeutics in both human and animal models. After accepting the award, Dr. Frese then presented an update of his work at Evolve Biosystems, Inc. on the effects of milk-derived probiotics (B. infantis) on the human infant gut microbiome. Dr. Frese explained his new research on infants receiving activated B. infantis EVC001 for 21 days. The infants who received the supplement had a dramatically different gut colonization pattern and fecal metabolome than those not receiving the supplement. A key finding was that B. infantis EVC001 led to the stable colonization of the infant gut in both vaginally-delivered and cesarean-delivered offspring. The gut colonization patterns remained even after supplementation was stopped, as long as breastfeeding was continued throughout the first year of life. 


Contributed by Kevin Comerford, Ph.D., Scientific Programs Coordinator, California Dairy Research Foundation


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