Steven Frese Takes Position with Evolve Biosystems


Formally affiliated with the Foods for Health Institute, Frese was awarded the 2014 Jules Tournut Probiotics Prize for his Ph.D. work. As a graduate student at the University of Nebraska, Frese conducted research in the lab of Dr. Jens Walter on host-specificity among vertebrate gut symbionts. As a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Mills Lab since 2013, Frese used a pig model for understanding infant gut diseases.

At Evolve Biosystems, Frese will continue to explore the constituents of milk in animal models, particularly the occurrence of “cross-feeding” between bacteria. Frese explained that milk constituents include complex glycans, or sugars, with many pieces that can be linked together. Each constituent needs a different enzyme to break it off. Using pig models, Frese discovered that some species were consuming only part of the glycan, leaving “trimmed-off” glycans/sugars behind. Unfortunately, these trimmed-off pieces were feeding the “wrong” kinds of microorganisms that are hypothesized to cause dysbiosis in the infant gut. At Evolve Biosystems, Frese will work to understand more about microbial cross-feeding, with the hope that it could tell us how to repair and fix the unwanted effects.

Frese is thrilled to begin his new job at Evolve Biosystems and thanks Foods for Health Institute researchers David Mills, Carlito Lebrilla, Bruce German, and Daniela Barile for starting the company. “Their decade of work was visionary and there wouldn’t be a company if it wasn’t for them,” Frese said.

Frese also credits his time at Davis for preparing him to undertake interdisciplinary research: “there is probably no other place where so many different disciplines come together to talk about one thing - especially milk,” Frese said. “Having microbiologists, glycan chemists, host physiologists and experts in metabolomics and genomics all sitting all together lets you think about a problem in a complex way,” he continued.

Frese continues to have a presence at UC Davis at the September group meeting of the Center of Health for Advancing Microbe and Mucosal Protection. He also presented his work, “Freed Milk Glycan Monomers Create a Niche for Gut Pathogens in Vivo,” at the 12th annual International Symposium on Milk Genomic and Human Health with several other Foods for Health Institute researchers in Sydney, Australia.