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Hongbo Yi

Science and Technology Award 2016: Asia

On 23 October 2016 Hongbo Yi received the annual DSM Bright Science & Technology Award at the 12th International Conference on Animal Nutrition, in Wuhan, China, in recognition of his fundamental research on intestinal health of piglets. An international jury, chaired by Dr. Anna-Maria Kluenter and Dr. Jinlong Wu, Senior Science Fellow at DSM, selected Hongbo Yi from among the other excellent candidates for his outstanding research into the role of antimicrobial peptide in intestinal inflammation and epithelial barrier functions of piglets.
Hongbo Yi, winner of DSM Bright Science & Technology Award Asia 2016

An early interest in antibiotic alternatives

Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to the effective treatment of bacterial infections in both humans and animals, making the treatment of patients difficult or even impossible,” says Hongbo. “When I was a college student, I was particularly interested in studies of alternatives to antibiotics. From reading various papers, I knew that bacteria do not easily develop resistance against antimicrobial peptides, because of the membrane-disrupting mechanisms of these molecules. My Ph.D. thesis was therefore focused on antimicrobial peptides as alternatives to antibiotics. On the other hand, intestinal inflammation and epithelial barrier damages are leading causes of intestinal diseases in humans and animals, and I wanted to know about the effects and underlying mechanisms of antimicrobial peptides on intestinal inflammation and epithelial barrier damages.”

Working to improve gut health

As we know, diarrhea is the leading cause of death among children under the age of five, and is highly dangerous,” says Hongbo. “A lot of antibiotics are used for the prevention and treatment of diarrhea. However, antibiotic exposure in early life has long-term consequences on the intestinal microbiota and metabolic homeostasis in the host. Our work suggested that antimicrobial peptides might be an effective and safe therapy for many intestinal diseases, such as post-weaning diarrhea, pathogen infection, and inflammatory bowel disease. In the future, we want to provide more alternatives to antibiotics and then reduce antibiotic usage in humans and animals, thereby lessening the stresses of antibiotic resistance around the world. We hope that people pay more attention to antibiotic resistance and use antibiotics in the right way.”