Beneficial Microbes®



Consultant on Beneficial Microbes – Probiotics – Prebiotics – Synbiotics : Koen Venema

One of the leading experts on Beneficial Microbes with over 25 years of experience. More than 200 publications. Initiator of the Beneficial Microbes Conferences and Editor-in-chief of the journal ‘Beneficial Microbes’.

This is a non-complete list. If you do not happen to find what you are looking for, feel free to get in touch with me to see if that service can be provided too.


I am Koen Venema, PhD. Practically my entire scientific career I have been working on what I now call Beneficial Microbes®

I received my PhD in Natural Sciences at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, on the antimicrobial activity of bacteriocins produced by lactic acid bacteria (LAB).

I then pursued the health-beneficial activity of these microbes as a PostDoc at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA, where I studied the potential of LAB to function as carrier for vaccines.

After that I have been employed by TNO for > 15 years, where I used the sophisticated, dynamic, computer-controlled in vitro models of the gastro-intestinal tract (developed by TNO, and nick-named TIM) to study i) the survival of probiotics in TIM-1, and ii) the effect of functional foods and drugs on the activity and composition of the colonic microbiota in TIM-2. Within TNO I led many multi-disciplinary projects on health of the host (e.g., gut health, inflammatory disease, allergy, obesity).

In the period 2004-2014 I have been project leader of two projects within the Public Private Partnership ‘Top Institute Food & Nutrition’ (TIFN), of which TNO is a partner. Within these multidisciplinary projects the research was devoted to the effect of the activity of the microbiota on gut health, and the (direct) interaction of pro- and prebiotis with the immune system of the host. Since Sept 2014 I run a newly established research group at Maastricht University – campus Venlo, where I have a chair in Gut Microbiology and where we use TIM to study the effect of the gut microbiota on health, and the role of pro- and prebiotics (amongst others) to modulate the gut microbiota and its activity.

I am the initiator and co-organizer of the Beneficial Microbes Conference-series and I am Editor-in-chief of the journal Beneficial Microbes.

Since January 2014 I have started my own company in the area of Beneficial Microbes® Consultancy

Feel free to Contact me at the bottom of this page.

Speaking calendar

26 – 28 nov 2018
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
19 – 21 oct
San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina

Furthermore, meet me at:

13-24 may


1) I studied Biochemistry at the University of Groningen, and obtained my BSc in ‘Natural Sciences’. I continued at the same university to get my PhD on the production of bacteriocins by lactic acid bacteria. I also did a brief PostDoc at this university on the same subject.

2) I then continued my career as a PostDoc at the North Carolina State University in the Food Science Department, where I studied the use of lactobacilli as carrrier for vaccins, particularly for in ovo injection in eggs for chickens.

3) When back in the Netherlands, I did a PostDoc in the Laboratory of Phytopathology of the Wageningen University, studying the interaction of fungi (Mycosphaerella graminicola) with their host (wheat). 

4) Then TNO phoned and convinced me to work for them. Since part of the work involved the TNO in vitro model of the colon (TIM-2), I practically immediately said yes, and expanded that work, until it was all I did at TNO. I have spent 15 years at TNO studying the use of the TNO in vitro models (nick-named TIM) for the development of functional foods, with an emphasis on probiotics and prebiotics, or what I nowadays call: beneficial microbes

5) While at TNO, I ran two projects at the Top Institute Food Nutrition (or Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences as it was called when I started). As a project manager I coordinated two projects on i) gut microbiota activity and its relation to health, and ii) the interactions of probiotics and prebiotics/fibers with the host.

6) I initiated the conference series on Beneficial Microbes. The first three were organized when I was at TNO and were hence called the TNO Beneficial Microbes Conference. At present they are organized by Bastiaanse Communication and are ‘just’ called Beneficial Microbes Conference. The next is on November 26-28, 2018 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

7) Bastiaanse Communication and Wageningen Academic Publishers asked me to be Editor-in-chief of the journal Beneficial Microbes, which stems from the conference series, with Daan Barugg as the founding father. Started in 2010, we obtained our first Thomson ISI impact factor in 2012 of 1.474. In 2016 it had increased to a solid 2.931.

8) In January 2014 I started my own consultancy company:

‘Beneficial Microbes® Consultancy’.

9) In September of 2014 I started at Maastricht University – campus Venlo, Centre for Healthy Eating and Food Innovation (HEFI), as Associated Professor. Here I am setting up my own research group, continuing the work on Beneficial Microbes using the TIM-systems. As of Nov 01, 2015 I became Full Professor with a chair in Gut Microbiology at Maastricht University.

10) I joined the advisory board of Ital Food ead, part of Ficosota in May 2018 to help with the development of their Livity Bar product, containing a cocktail of probiotics.

11) In September of 2018 I joined the advisory board of Keep Food Simple, a foundation that supports the development of nutritious and tasty food by more effectively using the nutritional potential of agricultural raw materials, therefore decreasing the dependence on additives, reducing the amount of waste in the form of raw materials, nutrients and other edible substances and promoting low CO2- and water-footprints