The ISAPP Students and Fellows Association (ISAPP-SFA) was created in 2009 as an initiative to link trainees working in fields related to probiotics, prebiotics and health effects of commensal microbes. We operate as a student-led branch of our parent group, ISAPP ( ISAPP aims to advance scientific excellence in probiotics and prebiotics.

Our goal as ISAPP-SFA is to create an interactive network of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows across the globe working on probiotics, prebiotics or related fields, and thus promote real-time interactions, intellectual and technical exchanges, and other networking opportunities for our members. We intend to act as a resource for ISAPP and the industry, providing a communication platform to facilitate scientific discussions, internships and employment opportunities among qualified researchers in the field.

The membership application form for ISAPP-SFA is available here. You can contact us at or visit our Facebook page.

ISAPP, our parent organization, now has a Facebook page and a monthly newsletter! Like their page here and subscribe to the newsletter here for even more news from the leading experts in the field of probiotics and prebiotics.

Executive Committee ISAPP-SFA 2019

Irina Spacova, Ph.D.
President ISAPP-SFA


Title: Post-Doctoral researcher at Sarah Lebeer’s lab of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology (University of Antwerp, Belgium)

Current research: I investigate immune modulation and stimulation by probiotic bacteria in the context of airway, skin and other inflammatory diseases. My interests include genetic modification of probiotics, experimental in vivo mouse and cell culture models for immunology-related probiotics research, and microbiome alterations in the context of allergic disease.

I am enthusiastic about the upcoming meeting and the novel scientific insights and collaborations that it will offer to its participants from across the globe. The diverse background of scientists, clinical practitioners, industry representatives and regulators will no doubt create a rich and diverse environment for expertise sharing and the generation of new ideas and projects.

LinkedIn: Irina Spacova
Twitter: @Irina_Spacova

Hemraj B. Dodiya, Ph.D.
Vice-president ISAPP-SFA


Title: Post-Doctoral Scholar in Sangram Sisodia lab Neurobiology (University of Chicago, US)

Current research:  I am interested in the microbiota-gut-brain axis and its role in aging and age-associated neurodegenerative disorders. Currently, I am working on the projects that look at the changes in the intestinal microbiome and its impact on the peripheral (mainly enteric) and central nervous system in Alzheimer’s disease. Prebiotics/ targeted probiotics preclinical research studies for Alzheimer’s disease are my short-term goal.

As an upcoming Neuroscientist in the microbiome field, ISAPP provides a great platform for me to learn and merge Prebiotic/probiotic field with the Neurobiology. The symposium and poster session will help me to collaborate with the top scientists and companies focusing on probiotics/prebiotics from all over the world.

LinkedIn: Hemraj Dodiya

Anna-Ursula Happel, M.Sc.
Communications and Outreach

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Title: PhD Student at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, South Africa

Current research:  I am working on evaluating the effect of vaginal probiotics on BV cure in South African women, as well as characterising vaginal Lactobacillus strains isolated from healthy South African women regarding their potential to improve vaginal health.

ISAPP-SFA provides a great opportunity to interact in real-time with young, early career scientists in the field of pre- and probiotics all over the world, thus giving me an unique opportunity to interact with like-minded researchers, develop networks, and stay up-to-date regarding the latest probiotic research!

LinkedIn: Anna-Ursula Happel

Conall Strain, Ph.D.

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Title: Senior Post-doctoral research fellow at Catherine Stanton’s lab in APC Microbiome Ireland & Teagasc Moorepark Food Research centre.

Current research:  My research focuses on how diet alters our gut microbiome and how this impacts on our health. I study the effects of nutrition on the gut microbiome and the immune system through in vitro colon models, pre-clinical mouse models and human intervention studies. Dietary components that I am interested in include: Prebiotics/dietary fibre, Omega-3 PUFA’s, and fish consumption. I use next generation sequencing and gas chromatography techniques and have a keen interest in biostatistics.

I feel that the ISAPP meetings are an excellent opportunity to meet leading experts in the microbiome field, find out the latest research, present our work, establish future collaborations, as well as make new friends in the area.

Holly (Xuedan) Wang
Treasurer ISAPP-SFA


Title: PhD student at the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences (University of Reading, UK)

Current research: I study protein and carbohydrate metabolism by colonic bacteria, and I'm currently interested in developing probiotics for metabolic disorders.
Supervisor: Prof. Glenn Gibson

I'm hyped about going to meet top researchers in prebiotics and probiotics area all over the world!

LinkedIn: Xuedan Wang

Dieter Vandenheuvel, Ph.D.
Local Organizer

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Title: Post-Doctoral Researcher at Sarah Lebeer's Laboratory for Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology (University of Antwerp, Belgium), and JSPS Post-Doctoral Fellow at Shimosato Takeshi's Laboratory of Molecular Biotechnology (Shinshu University, Japan).

Current research: My research focuses on the functional annotation of unknown genes and gene clusters in lactobacilli through genetic modification. My research interests include genetics, bacteriophage research, functional and molecular characterization, and pharmaceutical processing of biologicals (such as spray drying probiotics). 

The past ISAPP meetings proved to provide a valuable mixture of top-ranked academic researchers and industrials. It is a great place to expand your network, whatever direction you are looking into. For the upcoming meeting in Antwerp (Belgium), my home country, I will be the local organizer. I hope to give you an interesting view on this magnificent city and country.

LinkedIn: Dieter Vandenheuvel