Wageningen University, the Netherlands, has introduced a chair for 'Intestinal Health of Animals'. Dr Mari Smits (1951) was appointed to be the first professor in this field, at the university's Animal Sciences department.
The university hopes to expand its international position in the field of intestinal health. A healthy gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) is an important precondition for preventing intestinal infection – which is in turn relevant in the ongoing battle to reduce usage of antibiotics and environmental damage.
Prof Smits’ focus will be to better understand the synergy between intestinal epithelia, feed components and micro-organisms in the GIT. It is hoped that a better understanding will help to develop new strategies for animal gut health management.
Smits holds a PhD in Molecular Biology and has been connected to Livestock Research and the Dutch Central Veterinary Institute in Lelystad since 2000.