Koen Venema

Affiliation: 1) Beneficial Microbes Consultancy, Wageningen, The Netherlands
                   2) Maastricht University, Healthy Eating & Food Innovation, Venlo, The Netherlands

Short Biography:

Koen Venema received his PhD in Natural Sciences at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, on the antimicrobial activity of bacteriocins produced by LAB. He pursued the health-beneficial activity of these microbes as a PostDoc at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA, where he studied the potential of LAB to function as carrier for vaccines. Thereafter he was employed by TNO for 15 years, where he used the sophisticated, dynamic, computer-controlled in vitro models of the gastro-intestinal tract developed by TNO (nick-named TIM) to study the effect of functional foods and drugs on bioavailability and effects on the colonic microbiota. In the period 2004-2015 he has been project leader within the Public Private Partnership ‘Top Institute Food & Nutrition’, of which TNO is a partner. He ran two multidisciplinary projects that were devoted to the effect of the activity of the microbiota on gut health and obesity using stable isotopes, and the molecular interaction of probiotics and prebiotics with the host. In January 2014 he founded a consultancy company: Beneficial Microbes Consultancy, of which he is CEO. Since Sept. 2014 he is also Head Nutritional Research at the Maastricht University - campus Venlo. Here, he continues working on the TIM-systems, primarily studying the role of the gut microbiota in health and disease; since Nov 2015 as Full Professor. Prof. Venema is the organizer of the TNO Beneficial Microbe Conference-series and is Editor-in-chief of the journal Beneficial Microbes.

Current Research: 

Current research focuses on the role of the microbiota in health and disease using the TNO in vitro models of the GI tract combined with state-of-the-art cell culture assays. Topics range from optimizing survival of probiotics, studying differences in composition and activity of the microbiota of different populations (e.g., lean, obese, diabetic, kidney failure patients), to valorization of waste-streams from fruit and vegetable processing into new functional foods.


  1. Kortman G.A.M., Dutilh B.E., Maathuis A.J.H., Engelke U.F., Boekhorst J., Keegan K.P., Ginn Nielsen F.G., Betley J., Weir J.C., Kingsbury Z, Kluijtmans L.A.J., Swinkels D.W., Venema K. and Tjalsma H. Microbial metabolism shifts towards an adverse profile with supplementary iron in the TIM-2 in vitro model of the human colon. Frontiers in Microbiology, in press. - Link to full paper
  2. Aguirre M, Eck A, Savelkould P.H.M., Budding A.E.,  Venema K. 2015. Diet drives quick changes in the metabolic activity and composition of human gut microbiota in a validated in vitro gut model. Res Microbiol. doi:10.1016/j.resmic.2015.09.006 - Link to full paper
  3. Aguirre M, Eck A, Koenen ME, Savelkoul PH, Budding AE, Venema K (2015) Evaluation of an optimal preparation of human standardized fecal inocula for in vitro fermentation studies. J Microbiol Methods; 117:78-84. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2015.07.019 - Link to full paper
  4. Venema K. 2015. Health Effects of Pro­ and Prebiotics: Utilization of Sophisticated In Vitro Tools. In: Beneficial Microorganisms in Medical and Health Applications; Series: Microbiology Monographs, Vol. 28; M.-T. Liong (Ed.) pp. 1-18. - Link to full paper
  5. Rösch C, Venema K, Gruppen H, Schols HA. 2015. Characterisation and in vitro fermentation of resistant maltodextrins using Human faecal inoculum and analysis of bacterial enzymes present. accepted for publication in Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre. - Link to full paper
  6. Schnorr SL, Crittenden AN, Venema K, Marlowe F, Henry AG. 2015. Assessing digestibility of Hadza tubers using a dynamic in-vitro model. accepted for publication in American Journal of Physical Anthropology. - Link to full paper
  7. van der Beek CM, Bloemen JG, van den Broek MA, Venema K, Buurman WA, Dejong CH. 2015. Hepatic uptake of rectally administered butyrate prevents an increase in systemic butyrate concentrations in humans. accepted for publication in Journal of Nutrition. - Link to full paper
  8. Aguirre M and Venema K. 2015. The use of fecal samples for studying human obesity. European Journal of Epidemiology. DOI 10.1007/s10654-015-0048-z - Link to full paper
  9. Aguirre M and Venema K. 2015. The art of targeting gut microbiota for tackling human obesity. Genes & Nutrition 2015; 10:20. - Link to full paper
  10. Aguirre M and Venema K. 2015. Does the gut microbiota contribute to obesity? Going beyond the gut feeling. Microorganisms 3(2), 213-235. - Link to full paper
  11. Nalin T, Sperb-Ludwig F, Venema K, Derks TGJ, Schwartz IVD. 2015. Determination of amylose/amylopectin ratio of starches. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease. DOI: 10.1007/s10545-015-9850-8. - Link to full paper
  12. Guida S and Venema K. Gut microbiota and obesity: Involvement of the adipose tissue. J Functional Foods 2015; 14:40-7-23. - Link to full paper
  13. Venema K and do Carmo AP. 2015. Probiotics and prebiotics: current status and future trends. In: Probiotics and Prebiotics: Current Research and Future Trends. Venema K and do Carmo AP (eds). Caister Academic Press, UK. in press. - Link to full paper
  14. Venema K and Meijerink M. 2015. Lactobacilli as probiotics: discovering new functional aspects and target sites. In: Probiotics and Prebiotics: Current Research and Future Trends. Venema K and do Carmo AP (eds). Caister Academic Press, UK. in press. - Link to full paper
  15. Venema K. 2015. Functional aspects of the endogenous microbiota that benefit the host. In: Probiotics and Prebiotics: Current Research and Future Trends. Venema K and do Carmo AP (eds). Caister Academic Press, UK. in press. - Link to full paper

    For more publications see www.beneficialmicrobes.nl/publications