The big world of tiny bacteria with Mariya

The big world of tiny bacteria with Mariya

For those of you who don’t  know me, I’m Mariya, and I’m a Scientific Educator at Winclove Probiotics. I will provide you with hot content emerging from the world of tiny bacteria in the form of this blog post or column. Here’s is the first blog post so you can get to know me better.


Probiotics the cornerstone in my life story

Probiotics have taken me to places I couldn't imagine when I was a little kid eagerly eating the homemade yogurt my father makes to this day. The passion and love for probiotics were etched in my heart at an early age. I am glad that I chose these tiny microorganisms to be my friends. Probiotics have been instrumental in developing my career, and it wouldn't be the same without them.

I am originally from Bulgaria, and as you can guess, I grew up there. It was not until I turned 26 that I went abroad to follow my dreams for better education and research in the field of probiotics and the human microbiota. But why I chose probiotics? The answer is straightforward – my family traditions for fermented foods and, more precisely  yogurt and fermented cabbage. I often say, "Bulgarians are proud of their yogurt." This is for an excellent reason: Not only do many people still make yogurt at home, but the first probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, was isolated from Bulgarian yogurt in 1905 by the Bulgarian researcher Stamen Grigorov.

Probiotic research goes way back in time, and I would like to believe that discoveries made in my country were central to it. I have always been interested in probiotic Lactobacillus species, and they’ve been my favorite bacteria ever since I saw them under a microscope. Tiny bacteria, never alone, always in a chain of 3, 4, or more.  Seeing these social creatures was a fascinating experience.

My passion for probiotics first took me to the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, where I had the opportunity to work with one of the foremost researchers in the probiotic field. My PhD and postdoctoral research focused on how probiotic bacteria can benefit human health.

The list of such benefits has grown tremendously over the last 30 years. Various positive effects have been established. Benefits are observed in combatting not only gastrointestinal tract diseases such as diarrhea and constipation but also vaginal infections, seasonal allergies, eczema, and even depression and anxiety.

In recent years, I have contributed significantly to the molecular unraveling of the mode of action of probiotic lactobacilli. This experience made me the researcher I’m today. As a young researcher with hard earned expertise, the world seemed closer and open.  Where did probiotics take me next? From Australia to the USA, around Europe and to Canada. All of these countries brought new friends, colleagues, and of course, much more probiotic research and many opportunities. In fact, these days, I go to conferences to meet friends and colleagues to brainstorm for the next project, for the next research line, for the next step to bringing probiotics to more people. You become part of a society that works together and has the common goal of improving human health in the most natural way possible by taking beneficial bacteria that have been with us for ages.

And it was yet again probiotic bacteria that led me to write this blog post today. What a funny thing life is: I saw a great job opportunity in one of the best probiotic companies in the world. A company that I knew very well! Not only because I knew many people who work here, but because I take their probiotic products regularly. And in January 2020, before I realized what was happening, I was moving to the Netherlands to start work as a Scientific Educator at Winclove.

2020 turned out to be a crazy year, but I am fortunate enough to work with amazing people at Winclove.  Becoming part of the Winclove family in such a short time is the most incredible feeling: knowing that you are part of this team and that you belong to something great. Winclove has shown me that, just like the Lactobacillus bacteria that are always in a short chain, I am never alone, and that we are always stronger together. More importantly, I have seen probiotics from a different, commercial perspective and  have learned so much more about how we can help people stay healthy.

If we have not met yet, I am looking forward to meeting you all. Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy this new blog initiative.