Harvard Symposium 2018: IPA Reports from Boston

Guest BloggerMicrobiome Environment

Harvard Probiotic Symposium 2018

Every two years, this two-day symposium invites top researchers from across the globe to share current evidence from the probiotic space. Harvard Symposium 2018 focused on gut microbes and probiotics and their impact on health throughout life. Specific periods addressed include pregnancy, infancy, childhood, adulthood, and older adults. The program was held October 10-11 in Boston at Harvard Medical School.


For a snapshot of the conference in real time, visit IP_Association for its live tweets throughout the conference.

In the coming weeks, IPA will share more on the thought-provoking research described at the conference; brief video interviews and blogs will fill you in on the specifics.

IPA preview of high-points:

Global Probiotics Council Excellence in Research award was presented to Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, Professor and Director, Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology of Washington University. Dr. Gordon delivered a keynote lecture on directing complementary foods to develop microbiota in treating childhood malnutrition.

Session I: Perinatal and childhood period and its important impacts on later health

  • First 1000 days program later life

Session II: Adults

  • Microbiota in developed and developing countries—what we have learned
  • Fermented foods differ from probiotics in microbiota influence
  • Effect of diet on microbiota in inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diet and microbes in cardiovascular disease

Session III: Older Adults

  • What we have learned from twin studies
  • Similarities between inflammation in obesity and aging
  • Can we prevent or even reverse altered gut microbiota in aging?

Key takeaway

The long arc of life in the microbiota demands a strong foundation.

Opportunity for health begins in the pregnant woman and continues through adulthood until the final breath. Every step of the way offers promise when it comes to effecting microbiota health. Indeed, a key takeaway from the conference was that it is never too late to try to change the microbiota. Yet a skyscraper built on sand is most fragile.  A woman who eats well and selects a vaginal birth and breastfeeding (if at all possible) offers her child the best chance at lifelong health.