Scientific Advisory Committee

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) guides the scientific and technical content, and priorities for the consortium’s activities such as the annual Symposium. The SAC is composed of the Scientific Advisory Committee Chair and at least five other representatives from the scientific community. 

 

J. Bruce German, Ph.D.
Director, Foods for Health Institute
Professor, Department of Food Science & Technology
University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA
Email: jbgerman@ucdavis.edu

Dr. German, is the current Chair of the IMGC’s Scientific Advisory Committee. He established the IMGC in 2003 and organized the IMGC Symposia, first in Napa California, and then at various sites around the international scientific community. He has co-directed the IMGC programs and Symposia through the present. He has engaged in active collaborations with IMGC scientists around the world published over 100 publications with IMGC colleagues and launched products and technologies into the commercial marketplace. Dr. German is a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology and Director of the Foods for Health Institute at the University of California Davis. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Food Chemistry from Cornell University. He has studied milk and lactation for over 30 years to understand how milk nourishes, protects and assists in the development of mammalian infants.  Dr. German has used mammalian milk as a scientific and strategic model to understand the potential for diet to act on many aspects of human health. To that goal, he has championed the development of genomics, proteomics and metabolomics tools to the explicit objective of understanding milk. Among the themes that have emerged from that research is the conspicuously personal aspect of milk in guiding the development of each infant. That theme has been the basis of long term research into the precision of nutrition and the importance of a more personalized approach to diet and health both scientifically and through public policy. The research group that Dr. German leads has published over 450 articles, which have been cited over 38,000 times. Dr. German led the large team of faculty who made the mechanistic, clinical and regulatory discoveries that Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis is the ancestral bacterium in breastfed infants. The implications of those discoveries led the faculty to co-found a company to provide this bacterium to recolonize babies born by cesarean section or maternal lineages exposed to antibiotics. Dr. German has given over 250 lectures on the science of milk. His bibliography is publicly available here.

Henrik Jørgen Andersen, Ph.D.
Senior Executive R&D Advisor
Arla Foods Ingredients, Denmark
Email: henrik.jorgen.andersen@arlafoods.com

Dr. Henrik J. Andersen joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2014. As Senior Executive R&D Advisor at Arla Foods Ingredients, he oversees internal and external long-term research and innovation activities including the management of their internal research portfolio. Moreover, Dr. Andersen is responsible for research strategy development and foresight activities that are important for long-term business development while simultaneously being responsible for research and educational policy issues on behalf of global Arla Foods amba. Before his position with Arla Foods Ingredients, Dr. Henrik J. Andersen held positions as Head of Open Innovation and Corporate R&D Director of Arla Foods amba and served as Research Director, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor at governmental research institutes and universities within the areas of food chemistry, food production and quality, food processing, food packaging and storage, food-omics and nutrition. Dr. Henrik J Andersen holds a Ph.D. in Food Chemistry and obtained a Master of Science (MSc) in Food Science and Technology in Copenhagen. Moreover, he holds an Honorary Professor title in Nano and Food Science at University of Aarhus, Denmark. His bibliography is publicly available here.

Nurit Argov-Argaman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Animal sciences
The Robert H Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Email: argov.nurit@mail.huji.ac.il

Dr. Nurit Argov-Argaman joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2020 and has participated in IMGC Symposia for more than a decade. She trained at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in nutrition and lipid metabolism. After completing her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California Davis, she returned to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and created her lactation and metabolism research group. Her research focus is lactation physiology and its metabolic regulation. The objective of her research group is to obtain knowledge on the nutritional and metabolic regulation of milk fat composition, concentration, and structure. Her research group discovered the role of the mitochondria in regulating the milk fat globule structure and hence the composition of milk fat. Since the mitochondria is susceptible to bioitic and abiotic stressors, her studies have been focusing on the effect of environmental stress on the milk composition and lactation traits of dairy animals and finding nutritional strategies to mitigate these environmental detrimental effects. In her studies, she found strong associations between the milk fat structure and milk composition and hence focuses on the effect of the milk fat structure, e.g. the milk fat globule, on product quality. This association is studied under two aspects: 1) product stability and quality in terms of the content of bioactive constituents, and 2) the effect on the health of the consumer in terms of the digestion and absorption, physiological, immune and metabolic response to milk with varying milk fat globule sizes. Besides this research, Dr. Argov-Argaman develops, and teaches multiple rigorous courses in the BSc and MSc programs in The Animal Science Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with an emphasis on lactation physiology, animal nutrition and lipid metabolism. Her bibliography is publicly available here.

Kevin Comerford, Ph.D.
Chief Science Officer
California Dairy Research Foundation
Davis, CA, USA
Email: kbcomerford@cdrf.org

Dr. Comerford joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2019. In his current role as Chief Science Officer for the California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF), Dr. Comerford co-manages the IMGC’s administration and has co-hosted seven IMGC Annual Symposia since 2012. He earned his doctoral degree in Nutritional Biology from the University of California Davis with an emphasis in Endocrinology. Dr. Comerford completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California Davis Medical Center and became a lecturer in Nutrition and Metabolism at University of California Davis. He has coordinated multiple human clinical trials in nutrition, and his work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Advances in Nutrition, Nutrients, Metabolism, Obesity, and The Journal of Nutrition. His publications include titles such as “Gene–Dairy Food Interactions and Health Outcomes: A Review of Nutrigenetic Studies”, “Dairy Foods and Dairy Proteins in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence” and “Whey Protein Supplementation Does Not Alter Plasma Branched-Chained  Amino Acid Profiles but Results in Unique Metabolomics Patterns in Obese Women Enrolled in an 8-Week Weight Loss Trial”. At CDRF, he manages a portfolio of research and education projects focused on environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and human health. In addition to his work with CDRF, he is also a Food and Nutrition Consultant for FoodMinds LLC and has consulted for over twenty-five different food and nutrition companies/organizations including the National Dairy Council, US Dairy Export Council, and the IMGC.

Bethany M. Henrick, Ph.D.
Director, Immunology & Diagnostics
Evolve Biosystems Inc.
Davis, CA, USA
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Food Science and Technology Department
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA
Email: bethanyhenrick@mac.com

Dr. Bethany Henrick joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2020 and has participated in IMGC Symposia for more than five years. Dr. Henrick is the Director of Immunology and Diagnostics at Evolve Biosystems Inc. in Davis, CA and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Food Science and Technology Department at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. She investigates the role of the gut microbiome on the development of the immune system during infancy, including the polarization of regulatory T cells which are critically important to developing immune tolerance. Dr. Henrick is also investigating the role of antibiotics on gut microbiome composition to understand the effect on growth of infants in low-to-middle-income countries, and the therapeutic effect of altering the gut microbiome to improve enteric inflammation and growth of infants suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Dhaka, Bangladesh, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She was trained as an immunologist and previously investigated mother-to-child HIV transmission through breast milk and was the first to characterize innate immune factors in breast milk that inhibit HIV transmission and reduce immunopathogenesis. She also has extensive experience investigating maternal and infant immunity as well as a decade of experience designing, optimizing, and bringing to market rapid point-of-care diagnostics focused on improving the lives of individuals globally. Her current work has culminated into novel insight showing how infants born in developed nations suffer from chronic enteric inflammation that can be significantly decreased with a B. infantis-dominated microbiome. Further, she is currently investigating the impact of a B. infantis-dominated microbiome effect on T cell development during the first 100 days of life, which should provide critical insight into immune system development, vaccine efficacy, and prevention of autoimmune and allergic diseases.  Dr. Henrick also serves as an advisor to the Rwandan Ministry of Health to improve testing strategies for emerging infectious diseases. Her bibliography is publicly available here.

 

Kasper Hettinga, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dairy Science and Technology
Food Quality & Design Group
Wageningen University, Netherlands
Email: kasper.hettinga@wur.nl

Dr. Hettinga joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2015. He has participated in IMGC Symposia for more than a decade. Over the years, he has presented the outcomes of the research in his group at five different IMGC Symposia. He has started several projects through collaborations that started during IMGC Symposia, as witnessed by the several joint papers written with other IMGC delegates over the years. The objective of Dairy Science & Technology group, in which Dr. Hettinga is working, is to obtain new knowledge about the composition and quality of milk (products) throughout the dairy. Within this framework, he is responsible for the milk proteomics & infant health research. Since 2010, he has developed his own research line on this topic. His research focuses on product quality parameters that are relevant for infants from a nutritional & immunological point of view: “Exploring the effect of industrial processes on milk protein properties in relation to dairy product functionality”. When looking at the industrial processing of milk, there are three important aspects, that form the basis of my research 1) the effect of heating on damage and functionality of immune-active milk proteins, 2) the effect of heating on glycation & digestion of major milk proteins, and 3) the presence and functionality of peptides, either endogenously present in milk, or formed during digestion. This is a multidisciplinary research line, in which several groups of Wageningen University are brought together, with collaborators in e.g. biochemistry and immunology. Besides this research, Dr. Hettinga develops, and teaches in, multiple courses in the BSc and MSc program of Food Technology, with an emphasis on dairy science and food quality management. In addition, he has supervised more than a hundred BSc and MSc students during their thesis and internship. His bibliography is publicly available here.

Klaus Lehnert, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
University of Auckland, New Zealand
Email: klaus.lehnert@auckland.ac.nz

Dr. Lehnert joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2011. He has participated in IMGC Symposia for more than a decade. His primary research interest is ‘functional biology’, focusing on the regulation of gene expression and the cellular and systemic function of gene products in the wider areas of biology and medicine. Dr. Lehnert pursues these interests through discovery of genetic variation responsible for relevant phenotypes in large and small populations, predominantly humans, goats and cows. His research combines high-throughput phenotypic screening with whole genome sequencing and genetic mapping techniques to pinpoint the precise molecular architecture of traits related to milk composition and production in animals, and the causality of rare mutations in human genetic disease. Since 2001, his research has contributed to the discovery and understanding of the majority of genetic variants with significant effects on milk composition and production. A current focus is the development and integration of deep learning approaches, based on artificial neural networks, to make better use of the dense information available from routine herd screening and genome sequencing for research and industry application. Dr. Lehnert enjoys the variety and dynamics of collaboration with experts from related and unrelated fields, the satisfaction of integrating genetic variants in a breeding and selection schemes, all combined with teaching and mentoring students. His bibliography is publicly available here.

Danielle G. Lemay, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center
Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition
Faculty, Genome Center
University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA
Email: danielle.lemay@usda.gov

Dr. Danielle Lemay joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2007. She is also the Founder and Executive Editor of “SPLASH! milk science update”, the official publication of the IMGC for which she has selected and reviewed over 300 lay articles on milk science. Dr. Lemay is a Research Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California. She is also an Associate Adjunct Professor with the Department of Nutrition and faculty member of the Genome Center at University of California-Davis. Dr. Lemay’s research program was previously focused on the genetics of milk production, mammary biology, and milk-oriented microbes.  In her lab at the USDA, she is studying the effect of diet on gut microbes and gastrointestinal health. She has a PhD and MS in Nutritional Biology from UC Davis, and a BS in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from MIT. Her bibliography is publicly available here.

Monique Rijnkels, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA
Email: mrijnkels@cvm.tamu.edu

Dr. Rijnkels joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2011. She has participated in IMGC Symposia for more than a decade. She trained at Leiden University, the Netherlands, with Pharming Group NV, The Netherlands, and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. Her research interests are milk protein gene regulation, genetic and epigenetic regulation in mammary gland development, lactation and disease. She is currently at the department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biological Sciences, Texas A&M University. As part of the bovine genome consortium she led the lactation group for the annotation and analysis of the bovine genome. She is part of Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes (FAANG) consortium actively involved in chromatin analysis in bovine genome.

Bernd Stahl, Ph.D.
Director Human Milk Research and Analytical Science
Danone Nutricia Research
Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Science
Utrecht University, Netherlands
Email: Bernd.STAHL@danone.com

Dr. Bernd Stahl joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2015. He is the R&D Director of Human Milk Research & Analytical Science at Danone Nutricia Research, Utrecht, and an Associate Professor of Glycobiology within the Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery Group at the Department of Pharmaceutical Science at the Utrecht University, The Netherlands. He received his Ph.D. in Biology at the Westfaelische Wilhelms-University Muenster, Germany. He has a strong background in biochemical research with a significant contribution to human milk science for more than 25 years. Prof. Stahl is the author and co-author of more than 100 scientific publications, reviews and book chapters. He is (co) inventor of more than 40 patents. Currently his work is focused on the scientific understanding of factors that influence and are influenced by breastfeeding and human milk, beyond nutrition. The deciphering of the variation of human milk composition and its impact for a breastfed infant is important for global public health. The insights gathered through this research are not only relevant for early life but also for the entire lifespan of an individual. These allow the creation of innovative and specialized nutritional solutions. Bernd Stahl is a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS), American Chemical Society (ACS), German Biochemical Society (GBM), European Milk Bank Association (EMBA), International Milk Genomics Consortium (IMGC), and the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML).

Peter Williamson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Physiology and Genomics
Faculty of Veterinary Science
The University of Sydney, Australia
Email: p.williamson@sydney.edu.au

Dr. Peter Williamson joined the IMGC Scientific Advisory Committee in 2006. He also became an Associate Editor of “SPLASH! milk science update” in 2013. As an active researcher with over 30 years of experience in biomedical, biotechnology and comparative genomics research, Dr. Williamson has a deep knowledge of the research enterprise and project management. His research interests are grounded in physiological systems and genomics, and encompass animal and veterinary biosciences, comparative lactation and milk genomics. His research has been supported by Dairy Australia, The Dairy Cooperative Research Centre for Innovative Dairy Products, National Institutes of Health (USA), National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Canine Research Foundation, Meat and Livestock Australia and others. Dr. Williamson has held positions in the medical research sector and university academic environment, at Westmead Medical Centre, The Institute for Immunology and Allergy, The Westmead Millennium Institute and in the School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania (USA), with academic appointments in the Faculties of Science, Medicine, and Veterinary Science at The University of Sydney. A graduand of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, he has served as an Associate Dean for Research, on executive committees of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, and the Cooperative Research Centre for Innovative Dairy Products. He is a member of the Western Sydney Area Health Board advisory committee, and a range of steering committees for strategic research initiatives, including Sydney Institute for Agriculture (Animal Agriculture), a centre for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Charles Perkins Centre) and the multidisciplinary cancer research initiative (Cancer Research Network).

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