Dr Helene Savignac

Acting Head of Business Development

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I am Acting Head of Business Development at the Quadram Institute Bioscience. My main role is to identify collaborative opportunities and support the translation and commercialisation of the science undertaken in our laboratories.

Prior to joining the Quadram Institute Bioscience, I spent 12 years working as a scientist in the neuroscience, physiology and psychopharmacology fields. I also conducted drug testing in pharmaceutical industry.

I did my PhD at University College Cork and at the APC microbiome institute (Ireland) where I investigated the link between stress, the brain-gut axis, neuropsychiatric and functional GI diseases. In collaboration with Industry, I also tested the effects of different strains of live bacteria (probiotics) on anxiety, depression, cognition and intestinal pain.

My interest in the gut microbiome led me to take a post-doctoral position at the University of Oxford (UK), where I collaborated with two Universities and an industrial partner to investigate the effects of prebiotics in neuropsychiatric diseases. I then became Brain Research Programme Manager with this industrial partner (Reading, UK) to manage preclinical and clinical phase I-II studies. In this role, I investigated the effects of a prebiotic on brain diseases and helped develop collaborations for the company.

Subsequently, I joined 4D Pharma PLC (Aberdeen, UK) as a Group Leader, where I set up the Preclinical Department and associated team, investigating the effects of live biotherapeutic products on various disease areas such as central nervous system, metabolic, inflammatory, respiratory diseases. My role also included developing the company’s collaborations and extending the product and patent portfolios.

I have presented at multiple international conferences and have generated a number of highly cited publications. I also acted as a peer reviewer for scientific journals and have reviewed start-up plans.


Key Publications

  1. Increased cortical neuronal responses to NMDA and improved attentional set-shifting performance in rats following prebiotic (B-GOS®) ingestion. Gronier B, Savignac HM, Di Miceli M, Idriss SM, Tzortzis G, Anthony D, Burnet PWJ. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2018 Jan;28(1):211-224
  2. Prebiotic administration normalizes lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced anxiety and cortical 5-HT2A receptor and IL1-β levels in male mice. Savignac HM, Couch Y, Stratford M, Bannerman DM, Tzortzis G, Anthony DC, Burnet PWJ. Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Feb;52:120-131
  3. Bifidobacteria modulate cognitive processes in an anxious mouse strain. Savignac HM, Tramullas M, Kiely B, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. Behav Brain Res. 2015;287:59-72
  4. Bifidobacteria exert strain-specific effects on stress-related behavior and physiology in BALB/c mice. Savignac HM, Kiely B, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2014 Nov;26(11):1615-27
  5. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Bravo JA, Forsythe P, Chew MV, Escaravage E, Savignac HM, Dinan TG, Bienenstock J, Cryan JF. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 20;108(38):16050-5.