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Dr. Mehdi Sadaghian Sadabad

DSM Science & Technology Awards Europe

As a scientist I want to make people’s lives easier and happier
Dr. Mehdi Sadaghian Sadabad (©David Ghione)

At the 12th Congress of the Federation for European Nutrition Societies (FENS) in Berlin, Dr. Mehdi Sadaghian Sadabad was awarded this year’s prize for his outstanding PhD research into the "Interaction between the Gut and its Microbiota in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)". He received the award for the creation of a new model that studies direct interaction between gastro-intestinal cells and gut bacteria. It is a crucial and exciting area as research shows that gut health is considered increasingly important in human health.

Speaking shortly after the presentation, Mehdi expressed his thanks to the people who nominated him, the conference organizers, and the people from DSM who made his stay in Berlin so pleasant. He told us:

A complete surprise

I was totally unaware that my doctoral supervisor, Dr. Hermie Harmsen, had put my name forward for the DSM award until I received an email just over a week ago telling me I was one of the finalists and was invited to present my PhD research during the European Nutrition Societies conference in Berlin.

Quite a journey

Getting here has been quite a journey  I was working as a veterinarian when I first became interested in IBD. As I started to research its causes I learned of its debilitating effects in humans, and the potential of medical microbiology to find a cure for both animals and humans. My desire to be part of that process took me from Iran to Dr. Harmsen’s laboratory at the University of Groningen Medical Center in the Netherlands and start my PhD under supervision of Dr. Harmsen, Prof. Faber and Prof. Dijkstra.

Examining microbes but focusing on people

Much of our research there is done in the lab, of course, and we are proud of the novel co-culture system we developed to study the interaction between gut microbiota and intestinal cell lines. But now we are working on our human trial into the impact of riboflavin on the progress of IBD we are constantly reminded of the human suffering caused by this disease, and that ultimately people are the focus of our work.

Industry offers scientists opportunities to make a real difference

With this in mind, I would like eventually to work in the industrial sector. I believe this offers the best opportunities for scientific research to provide feasible, practical solutions which make people’s lives easier and happier – which what science should be about. My ultimate aim is to play a part in putting an end to IBD in animals and humans. Ambitious, I know, but that is my dream.