Thank you!


The first online Mind the Brain symposium was a success! We hope you have enjoyed this years' symposium just as much as we have enjoyed organizing it. We want to thank all the speakers, workshop givers, and all our visitors. We hope to see you again in September for the poster session and for the next Mind the Brain symposium!

Final Keynote speaker

The final keynote speaker we would like to introduce to you is Dr. Laura Steenbergen from the University of Leiden!


In 2012 Laura received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Leiden University. During her Master’s, she did an internship on the effect of cocaine on creativity and emotional processing at Maastricht University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Jan Ramaekers.


From July 2014 to June 2016, Laura worked as a PhD student at Leiden University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Lorenza Colzato and Dr. Roberta Sellaro on the topic of Cognitive Enhancement. She successfully defended her PhD thesis (for which she received the runner-up dissertation prize for the Dutch Psychonomics Society in 2017) and received her doctorate.

From then, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Cognitive Psychology Unit of Leiden University. She visited several labs abroad: Emotions and Quantitative Psychophysiology lab led by Prof. Dr. Julian Thayer at the Ohio State University (USA) and Oxford Centre for Emotion and Affective Neuroscience (OCEAN) lab led by Prof. Dr. Elaine Fox.


Currently, Laura is working at University of Leiden, investigating the influence of the vagal nerve and pro- and antibiotics on microbiota-gut-brain interactions, emotion and cognition, and well-being. From a practical point of view, her research includes methods such as food supplementation (tyrosine, tryptophan, probiotics) and electrical brain stimulation (tVNS, tDCS). Additionally, she appreciates an occasional scientific trip to our inner personality structures.


Laura will give us an inspiring talk about understanding the human microbiota-gut-brain axis in mental health the 28th of May.


For more information about her research, you can have a look at her website:

Third Keynote speaker

We are happy to announce our third keynote speaker Prof. Dr. Aletta Kraneveld - Division of Pharmacology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University.


In 2016 Aletta Kraneveld (MSc Pharmaceutical Sciences) was appointed as full professor Interdisciplinary Translational Pharmacology at the Faculty of Science and the faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Utrecht University. She has published >125 scientific papers (H-index: 44). Since March 1, Aletta Kraneveld has been appointed as the vice dean Science of the faculty of Science, Utrecht University.


Kraneveld’s current research interests involve targeting the interaction between innate and adaptive immunity as well as host-microbiome interactions in chronic (inflammatory) disorders with pharmaceutical as well as nutritional interventions. The Kraneveld group is focusing research into in-depth study the role of the gut-immune system-brain-axis to further enhance knowledge on the interaction of intestinal microbiota, immune and nervous systems in chronic (inflammatory) conditions in the gut, airways and CNS (neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders). The intestinal tract is our largest surface exposed to the environment inhabited with trillions of microbes. 70 % of our white blood cells have their origin in the intestinal tract and are programmed by the microbes. In addition, the intestinal tract is innervated by 100 millions of neurons forming the enteric nervous system that can communicate bidirectionally with the brain but is also involved in local (neuro)immunomodulatory processes. Kraneveld group has gained more insight, with state-of-the-art in vivo models as well as in cell systems, in the importance of the intestinal microbiota, its ligands/metabolites and receptors as well as the epithelium in the tuning of the immune system with consequences for local and remote organ functions such as the brain. Aletta Kraneveld has set up a research program that is a (inter)national neuro-immune platform where academia, patient organisations and industry meet for research on the gut-immune-brain axis as a target for medicine and medical food concepts. 


Guts 4 Brain in autism

Prof. Kraneveld will give a talk about the effect of the gut-brain axis on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The recently reported leaky gut, intestinal inflammation and changes in the composition of the microbiota in patients point to the relevance of gut-microbiome-immune-brain axis in ASD. Based on (pre)clinical data the talk will shed light on the possible mechanism of the crosstalk between gut and brain in ASD. There is a great need for additional therapies for ASD. A poor gut function leads to a poor brain function and vice versa; therefore targeting the microbiota/gut-immune axis with nutritional interventions or pharmaceutical compounds could be a new approach for the (additional) therapy of ASD.


We are working hard on an online symposium the 28th and 29th of May. Sitting behind your device for a whole day might be very boring, therefore we decided to do two "morning" session from 9AM-2PM max (the full program will follow soon). There will be keynote lectures, student presentations and workshops to attend. Dr. Sahar El Aidy and Prof. Dr. Peter Holzer will give live lectures, as at least two other speakers who we will reveal soon!! Once we have the program ready, we will make a google form available through which you can register for the symposium, so keep an eye on our social media!

Second Keynote speaker

We are happy to welcome Prof. Dr. Peter Holzer as an international keynote speaker during our symposium. With a PhD in Physiology and Biochemistry, Peter Holzer’s academic career included fellowships at the University of Cambridge, UK, and UCLA, USA. He is currently Chair of Experimental Neurogastroenterology at the Otto Loewi Research Centre and Dean of Doctoral Studies at the Medical University of Graz. Named Highly Cited Researcher in Pharmacology by ISI in 2003, he also received the Masters Award for Research in Digestive Sciences by the American Gastroenterological Association and the Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria.


Peter Holzer's current research addresses the impact of nutrition, gut microbiota, gut hormones, immune mediators, sensory neurons, and circulating metabolites on brain function in health and neuropsychiatric disease. Among others, he is particularly interested in the roles of neuropeptides such as neuropeptide Y, substance P and CGRP and considers hormones from gut, adipose tissue and bone as important messengers of interoception.


Prof. Dr. Peter Holzer will give us an inspiring talk on how high-fat diets and gut microbiota can induce depression-like behavior.

First Keynote speaker

As an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Immunology and Microbiology, her research focusses on gut microbiota and its interaction with host immune response, metabolism and gut-brain axis.


“In my research team, we study what chemicals are produced by gut bacteria, why the bacteria produce them and whether they affect our health or can even interfere with the medication we take. Our work brings us closer to improve the state of our microbiota through heathy food, which may ultimately improve our mental wellbeing.”


Dr. Sahar El Aidy will give us an inspiring talk about the effects of the microbiome and diets on the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. For more information on her research, visit her website:

Reveal party

thanks to our beloved sponsors!