by Véronique Demers-Mathieu

MUA: Lori Danaraso | Photos: Matt Ayotte | Location: Boucherville | Dresses: Ted Baker, shoes: Banana Republic (Véro) and Lewit (MC)

I, Vero, obtained my Ph.D. in microbiology from Laval University in 2015. My doctoral thesis work was focused on anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity effects of new probiotic strains in dairy products.

At the end of my Ph.D., I discovered that Bifidobacterium animalis sp. lactis and Lactobacillus paracasei strains, present in dairy products (such as ice cream with probiotics) reduced weight gain and white adipose tissue (bad fat associated with cardiovascular diseases and obesity) by decreasing inflammation.

This research was performed with mice supplemented with probiotics in yogurt and milk and fed a high-fat and high-glucose diet, which induces obesity. The weight gain of white adipose fat in mice supplemented with probiotics was lower than that of mice without probiotic supplementation. No mouse was maltreated, I promise you!

Usually, ice cream does not contain probiotic bacteria. However, some companies have innovated ice cream with probiotics: frozen kefir with probiotics, frozen yogurt with probiotics, and ice cream with probiotics. The word “probiotics” must be written on the product. Otherwise, the ice cream does not contain probiotics.

Since 2016, I am doing my postdoc (Associate Researcher) in nutritional immunology in Dallas’ lab at the School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, Oregon State University.

My research goal was to improve immunity and digestion in preterm infants (birth before the 37th week of gestation). The digestive and immune systems of these infants are immature, which makes them vulnerable to infection by pathogen bacteria and viruses (such as the respiratory syncytial virus, the influenza A & B viruses, and the Bordetella pertussis bacteria). My research goal was to determine the stability of antibodies specific to pathogens (bad microorganisms that can induce disease and infection) from human milk during the preterm infant digestion. The role of these antibodies is to attach to microbes before they enter our intestinal cells and infect them. The mother transfers her antibodies to her infant during breastfeeding (the transfer of maternal antibody is not happening when the infant is fed by infant formula). Therefore, the antibodies in breast milk give the baby immunization, e.g. the infant’s immune system will recognize when a “bad microbe” enters the digestive system. However, these maternal antibodies must survive during infant digestion in order to enter the intestine, which is the organ most at risk of gastroenteric diseases.

Since December 2018, I am working as Senior Research Scientist at Medolac Laboratories in Nevada. This corporation has a mission to ensure every baby who needs donor milk (some mothers are not able to breastfeed) is able to get it.
This principle is the same as when you give blood to a blood bank. Each mother who wants to give her milk must pass several tests to demonstrate the absence of viruses, infections, drugs, and antibiotics in order to eliminate the possible transfer of these negative factors into her milk.

I am pursuing my research on preterm infants, immunity, and infection with the Medolac team.
I am also doing a second postdoc with a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in order to continue my professor training and to teach.
And why not teach in a beautiful Ted Baker dress; the best of both worlds.