The world’s first chair in Human Lactology (today, Immunology and Breastfeeding) was established at The University of Western Australia (UWA) with an endowment from the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation (FLRF) in 2015.

Today, that chair has expanded into an entire research centre anchored in the UWA School of Medicine: the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding (LRF CIBF), located at the Telethon Kids Institute. Researchers are exploring the ways breastmilk instructs an infant’s immune development and guides long-term immune health.

A major objective of the LRF CIBF is to establish the matches and, importantly, the possible mismatches, between what the infant needs for healthy development and the nutrition that they are provided.

The team is focused on questions especially relevant for children in low resource settings such as revealing what is needed to make breastmilk more likely to prevent conditions such as malaria, growth failure or allergy.

“I am fascinated by the magic of breastmilk, a gift from nature still with many unknowns and assumptions. The research of my team aims at providing outstanding scientific knowledge arising from translational research on the influence of breastmilk on long-term health. Ultimately, I aspire for our research to guide evidence-based recommendations for maternal and/or child interventions that will increase the chance of optimal health through breastfeeding.”
– Valérie Verhasselt, MD, PhD, Professor and Director of the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding at the Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia

FLRF donated AUD 11.5 million to establish the LRF CIBF. The vision: develop core infrastructure and expertise that can enable long-term, sustainable projects with major translational impact.

Further reading

Macchiaverni P, Rekima A, van den Elsen L, Renz H, Verhasselt V. Allergen shedding in human milk: Could it be key for immune system education and allergy prevention? J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2021;148(3):679–88. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2021.07.012

Rodríguez JM, Fernández L, Verhasselt V. The gut‒breast axis: Programming health for life. Nutrients. 2021;13(2):606. DOI: 10.3390/nu13020606

van den Elsen LWJ, Verhasselt V. Human milk drives the intimate interplay between gut immunity and adipose tissue for healthy growth. Front Immunol. 2021;12:645415. DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.645415

de Silva D, Halken S, Singh C, Muraro A, Angier E, Arasi S, et al. Preventing food allergy in infancy and childhood: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2020;31(7):813–26. DOI: 10.1111/pai.13273

Rekima A, Bonnart C, Macchiaverni P, Metcalfe J, Tulic MK, Halloin N, et al. A role for early oral exposure to house dust mite allergens through breast milk in IgE-mediated food allergy susceptibility. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020;145(5):1416-1429.e11. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2019.12.912

van den Elsen LWJ, Verhasselt V, Egwang T. Malaria antigen shedding in the breast milk of mothers from a region with endemic malaria. JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(3):297–8. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.5209

Verhasselt V, Genuneit J, Metcalfe JR, Tulic MK, Rekima A, Palmer DJ, et al. Ovalbumin in breastmilk is associated with a decreased risk of IgE‐mediated egg allergy in children. Allergy. 2020;75(6):1463–6. DOI: 10.1111/all.14142

van den Elsen LWJ, Garssen J, Burcelin R, Verhasselt V. Shaping the Gut Microbiota by Breastfeeding: The Gateway to Allergy Prevention? Front Pediatr. 2019;7:47. DOI: 10.3389/fped.2019.00047. eCollection 2019.

Munblit D, Verhasselt V, Warner JO. Editorial: Human Milk Composition and Health Outcomes in Children. Front Pediatr. 2019;7:319. DOI: 10.3389/fped.2019.00319. eCollection 2019.

Macchiaverni P, Baiz N, Rekima A, Annesi-Maesano I, Verhasselt V. Reply. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. 2019;143(2):808-9.

de Silva D, Halken S, Singh C, Muraro A, Angier E, Arasi S, et al. Preventing immediate-onset food allergy in infants, children and adults: Systematic review protocol. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2019. DOI: 10.1111/pai.13177. [Epub ahead of print]

Blyuss O, Cheung KY, Chen J, Parr C, Petrou L, Komarova A, et al. Statistical Approaches in the Studies Assessing Associations between Human Milk Immune Composition and Allergic Diseases: A Scoping Review. Nutrients. 2019;11(10). DOI: 10.3390/nu11102416.

Renz H, Adkins BD, Bartfeld S, Blumberg RS, Farber DL, Garssen J, et al. The neonatal window of opportunity—early priming for life. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018;141(4):1212–4. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.11.019