prof.dr. M.(Mari) Smits

Mari Smits was appointed extraordinary professor Intestinal Health of Animals per 1 November 2011. The chair is funded by the Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen UR. His research focuses on a better understanding of the interplay in the gastrointestinal tract of livestock animals between feed components, microbiota and the intestinal epithelium. Main objective is to investigate how these interactions affect the functioning of the intestine, in particular its barrier function and its role in immune programming and immune homeostasis. Better understanding of the underlying mechanisms allows the development of new tools and strategies for the improvement of (gut) health in future livestock production systems, for example by nutritional or management interventions. His research involves the measurement of several different (–omics) datasets on various biological levels, ranging from molecule to the phenotypic level, and integration of data.
A healthy gastrointestinal tract is an important prerequisite for proper digestion, efficient uptake of nutrients and the prevention of (intestinal) infectious diseases. Use of the gathered knowledge may result in more robust food-producing animals and a further reduction of the use of antibiotics by the livestock sector. In several research projects there is a strong collaboration with private partners from the animal feed industries.