UGent Researchers receive Grant to study Preterm Vulnerability in Burkina Faso

(07-11-2022) Trenton Dailey-Chwalibóg and Laeticia Toé receive grant to study preterm vulnerability in urban Burkina Faso

Co-principal investigators Trenton Dailey-Chwalibóg and Laeticia Toé (Faculty of Bioscience Engineering) recently received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the DenBalo project. This project builds on a previous foundation award to the Department of Food Technology, Safety and Health to study the effect of an enriched food supplement during pregnancy and lactation on birth outcomes, growth and biochemical parameters in children in Burkina Faso (

DenBalo stands for “Describing and comparing gut microbiota, immune system, and breastmilk ontology in pre- and full-term neonates in urban Burkina Faso,” and also translates to “raising a baby” in Dioula, the local language in Bobo-Dioulasso, where the project will be conducted.

The study aims to characterize how the neonatal gut microbiome and immune system develop in the first days and weeks of life—with an important emphasis on the role of breastmilk composition in these processes.

Drs. Dailey-Chwalibóg and Toé aim to identify health vulnerabilities specific to the preterm neonate—in an effort to one day develop interventions that promote a healthy gut microbiota and a robust immune system in this high risk population.

The larger DenBalo project consortium includes the Sonnenburg Lab (Prof. Justin Sonnenburg, Stanford University), the THRiVE Discovery Lab (Prof. Meghan Azad and Natalie Rodriguez, University of Manitoba), as well as the PID research lab (PIRL) at Center for Primary Immune Deficiencies Ghent (CPIG, PIRL, Prof. Filomeen Haerynck and Dr. Simon Tavernier, Ghent University Hospital). Institutional and implementation partners include the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS) and the Agence de Formation, de Recherche et d’Expertise en Santé pour l’Afrique (AFRICSanté) in Burkina