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Dr. Gisele LaPointe

Dr. Gisèle LaPointe

Faculty in the Department of Food Science

Research focus: Understanding how food components modulate the metabolic activities of microbiota in food and human microbial ecosystems

With a background in microbial ecology and genetics applied to food and agriculture, Dr. Gisèle LaPointe has been working in the field of dairy microbiology since 1995.

Dr. LaPointe came to the University of Guelph as the NSERC/Dairy Farmers of Ontario Industrial Research Chair in Dairy Microbiology. Her research involves dairy microbiology at all levels of dairy production, from farm to product, as well as probiotics, prebiotics, and human gut ecology.

Thanks to NSERC funding, Dr. LaPointe’s lab has the very first Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem (SHIME) system in Canada, which allows her research team to simulate the gastrointestinal tract of humans or animals. This research is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and explores topics such as survival of probiotics and the use of prebiotics to modulate the composition and activity of gut microbiota, as well as the survival of foodborne pathogens in the stomach and small intestine when introduced to food, such as infant formula.

Dr. LaPointe is a member of the steering committee for Dairy at Guelph. This involvement felt obvious from the beginning as she always had a vision of learning more about the production side of dairy and hoped to collaborate on topics that are difficult to understand from a single research perspective.

Her research evolved because of the other expertise available: she expanded from mainly food and product-based research into how the production environment influences the quality of food being produced from the milk. From this synergy, LaPointe and other researchers have incorporated aspects of crop production, animal production, animal health and nutrition into their own research. For example, probiotics on the market for human health are being used with dairy cows, , sparking collaborations with other researchers at the University of Guelph.

Asked about what she enjoys most, Dr. LaPointe highlighted her role working with students. “They really have the motivation and all of the energy and enthusiasm, and they come up with the neatest ideas,” says LaPointe. “I really like working with students and doing research with people from all over the world here at the University of Guelph.”

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