Immune Resilience

The health of individuals is strongly influenced by intrinsic resilience and optimal immunity. This is not only valid for human health but is equally important for preventing disease in farm animals and crops.


Food forms the important connection between agricultural production and human health. Prevention of infectious diseases in animals and crops is of prime importance for sustainable production of healthy food. This entails further reductions in the use of agrochemicals and antibiotics and optimal use of natural protection mechanisms, e.g. genetic improvements and deployment of biologicals. On the consumer side, optimal food choices and new insights from microbiome research can strongly contribute to enhancing immunity and to prevent disease.

The definition of the WHO of health has been redefined as an individual’s ‘ability to adapt and to self-manage, in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges’. The new definition emphasizes that health is a dynamic process that includes the resilience of individuals to cope with e.g. stressful conditions that disturb homeostasis and may cause development of disease.In the last couple of years, researchers from academia and food industries have started to translate this new health concept into experimental methods, in particular with regard to human intervention studies. There is a wealth of human studies aiming at assessment of health effects, both in healthy individuals and in patients with infections or with a chronic inflammatory disease.

Example of food related research within the Immune Resilience theme
Examples of Immune Resilience research
Some of our experts within this theme:
  • Corné Pieterse - The plant immune system, plant-microbe interactions, induced systemic resistance (ISR),hormonal regulation of plant defense, molecular biology.
  • Guido van den Ackerveken - Analysis of microbial plant pathogens, genomics of plants and pathogens, plant immunity, translational plant and microbial biology.
  • Marca Wauben - Cell biology, extracellular vesicles, exosomes, microvesicles, immunology, intercellular communication, milk
  • Willem van Eden - Relationship between infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases (veterinary and the human domains)
  • Aletta Kraneveld - Innate and adaptive immunity as well as host-microbiome interactions in chronic (inflammatory) diseases with pharmaceutical as well as nutritional interventions.
  • Johan Garssen - Pharmanutrition, new concepts for medical nutrition and early life nutrition.
  • André Knulst - Food allergy and theraphy
Example of food related research within the Immune Resilience theme