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Our research strategy places human milk at the center of maternal and infant health. We aim to understand how maternal factors affect human milk composition, how human milk impacts short- and long-term infant health, and how breastfeeding influences maternal health.

Studying modifiable and non-modifiable maternal factors that affect milk composition and infant and maternal health include, but are not limited to:

  • genetics and epigenetics (maternal, but also paternal and infant)
  • diet and use of dietary supplements
  • environment
  • lifestyle, stress, exercise
  • health and disease
  • exposure to medical or recreational drugs

Studying human milk composition includes macro- and micronutrients as well as human milk bioactives with a particular focus on oligosaccharides, lipids and the human milk microbiome and metabolome. 

Studying the impact of human milk on infant health covers both short- and long-term effects and includes term as well as preterm infants. The following list provides some examples of ongoing research that targets different aspects of infant health and disease:

  • infant microbiome and metabolome
  • gut health, gut motility, infectious diarrhea
  • growth, body composition, obesity risk in childhood, adolescence and adulthood
  • neurodevelopment and cognition
  • immunity, infection, inflammation, sepsis
  • respiratory disorders, respiratory infections
  • asthma, allergies, atopic dermatitis
  • necrotizing enterocolitis

Studying the impact of human milk and breastfeeding on maternal health is often understudied and includes, for example, determining how breastfeeding and human milk bioactives affect women’s cancer risk.

Leveraging UC San Diego's strengths in developmental biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, nutritional sciences, social sciences, biomedical technology and medicine, we use a comprehensive approach - from tissue cultures and in vivo preclinical models to human cohort and intervention studies - to generate a detailed understanding of how human milk works and why and when human milk matters. 

Dedication to ​Care 

​We believe that conducting the best possible research alone is not enough to optimize maternal and infant health. Together with UC San Diego Health, Rady Children’s Hospital and Mommy’s Milk Human Milk Research Biorepository as well as many other national and international partners, LRF MOMI CORE affiliates have easy access to human milk samples and extensive associated datasets from large diverse human clinical and non-clinical populations. These partnerships allow us to translate research discoveries into enhanced evidence-based clinical practice as quickly as possible.

Devotion to Education

We strive to disseminate our research findings to a wide range of audiences from scientists and clinicians to lactation consultants and breastfeeding coordinators, and most importantly to the general public. Together with the UC San Diego Department of Education Studies, we are developing new strategies for developing accurate and simple messages and didactic tools to help educate health care professionals and the community about the benefits of human milk.

At LRF MOMI CORE, our mission is to unravel the complexity of human milk for optimal maternal and infant health by promoting excellence, synergy and innovation in research, clinical practice and education.