July 11/White Plains, N.Y./Press Release -- The Dannon Company announced Kurt Selle from North Carolina State University as the 2013-2014 Dannon Yogurt and Probiotics Fellow. Selected from a pool of qualified and talented candidates, Selle’s interest in probiotics and commitment to advancing human health through scientific research distinguished him from other candidates, the company explained.

The Dannon Company created the Fellowship to support the next generation of scientists and to promote interest in research on the benefits of probiotics and yogurt. Now in its second year, the Fellowship Program aims to support the education of a student who excels in science and shows a strong interest in the field of probiotics, yogurt, fermented dairy products, nutritional benefits of yogurt, and functional benefits of yogurt and probiotics on the body.

“In an effort to build on the success of last year’s program, we evolved the fellowship program to include probiotics and yogurt,” said Dr. Miguel Freitas, director of Health Affairs at The Dannon Company. “Although a lot of research has already been done on the functional benefits of probiotics and the nutritional benefits of yogurt, scientists are still finding more areas to research and discover. For young researchers like Kurt Selle, the Dannon Yogurt and Probiotics Fellowship Program allows him to pursue more advanced experiments on probiotics and lactic acid bacteria, explore new areas and contribute to the research already in progress. At Dannon, we are constantly researching probiotics and yogurt as a way to deliver benefits through our products and we see firsthand in our work how valuable this research continues to be.”

As a doctoral candidate within the Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences Department, Selle’s research aims to establish the mechanisms of probiotic action by providing a genetic basis for their observed benefits. Selle also plans to investigate beneficial lactic acid bacteria including those found in yogurt. In addition to his lab work, Selle supplements his knowledge and network by attending industry conferences and events to gain exposure to current scientific research, techniques, and advances.

“Through the Fellowship, I plan to continue designing, conducting and communicating research within my program, under the direction of Dr. Todd Klaenhammer and Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou,” said Selle. “As a Fellow, I will be able to focus on investigating probiotics and their impact on human health by dedicating myself to research and modeling innovative experiments. My goal is to be a visible and dynamic leader in the field and I believe this is a pivotal step in enabling me to do so.”

As part of the Fellowship, Selle will receive $25,000, payable to North Carolina State University to support his education during the 2013-2014 academic year.

“This fellowship supports the next generation of scientists. Their energy, enthusiasm and creativity will make a difference down the road, and this fellowship encourages them to direct those resources toward understanding yogurt and probiotics,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders, Fellowship judging panel member, Dairy and Food Culture Technologies consultant, and executive director of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP). “Kurt was selected among many qualified applicants and it means a lot to his professional development to count this award among his accomplishments.”

Selle was chosen by a panel of judges that included: Sanders; Daniel Merenstein, MD, associate professor and director of Research Programs at the Department of Family Medicine at the Georgetown University Medical Center; Keri Glassman, nationally recognized dietitian and founder and president of Nutritious Life; Dr. Patrick Veiga, senior scientist, The Danone Research Center; and Dr. Miguel Freitas, director of Health Affairs, The Dannon Company.