The University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation (FLRF) jointly established the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (LRF MOMI CORE) at the UC San Diego School of Medicine to learn how breastmilk can help treat and prevent some of the world’s most deadly diseases.

Recent evidence has repeatedly shown that breastmilk provides far more than just nutrition for infants; instead, breastmilk is emerging as a powerful tool fundamental to fighting global killers such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and infectious superbugs. Yet historically, research into breastmilk has often been overlooked, curtailed or siloed.

Now, at LRF MOMI CORE, basic researchers, clinical practitioners and educators have the chance to develop a comprehensive understanding of breastmilk and its mechanisms through long-term, interdisciplinary research. Some of their core questions include:
• What exactly is in breastmilk?
• How does it work?
• Can it be leveraged to improve the health of all people at every stage of life?

“Our goal is to connect with and activate the world’s leading experts in research, clinical care and education to look to human milk for new answers. Together, we will be able to connect the dots and discover how breastmilk is positioned at the epicenter of the mother-milk-infant ‘triad’. Ultimately, we aim to leverage the generated knowledge and deep mechanistic understanding to improve health and development at every stage of life.”
Lars Bode, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology and Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, and Director, LRF MOMI CORE, University of California San Diego.

One way LRF MOMI CORE facilitates multidisciplinary exploration into breastmilk is through annual pilot grants: MOMI SEEDS. Since 2018, MOMI SEEDS have been awarded to UC San Diego researchers from all areas of study, helping fund early-stage projects that advance our understanding of breastmilk and its impact on infant gut health, neurodevelopment, immune system development, viral and bacterial infectious diseases, epigenetics, liver disease and more. 

FLRF donated USD 10.5 million to endow LRF MOMI CORE. Endowments facilitate financial independence in perpetuity, and thus enable academic organisations to accommodate panoramic research with long horizons.

Selected further reading 

Spatz DL, Davanzo R, Müller JA, Powell R, Rigourd V, Yates A, et al. Promoting and protecting human milk and breastfeeding in a COVID-19 world. Front Pediatr. 2020;8:633700. DOI: 10.3389/fped.2020.633700

Larsen JK, Bode L. Obesogenic programming effects during lactation: A narrative review and conceptual model focusing on underlying mechanisms and promising future research avenues. Nutrients. 2021;13(2):299. DOI: 10.3390/nu13020299

Lodge CJ, Lowe AJ, Milanzi E, Bowatte G, Abramson MJ, Tsimiklis H, et al. Human milk oligosaccharide profiles and allergic disease up to 18 years. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2021;147(3):1041–8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2020.06.027

Lagström H, Rautava S, Ollila H, Kaljonen A, Turta O, Mäkelä J, et al. Associations between human milk oligosaccharides and growth in infancy and early childhood. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020;111(4):769–78. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa010

Bode L, Raman AS, Murch SH, Rollins NC, Gordon JI. Understanding the mother-breastmilk-infant “triad.” Science. 2020;367(6482):1070–2. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw6147 

Larsson MW, Lind MV, Laursen RP, Yonemitsu C, Larnkjær A, Mølgaard C, et al. Corrigendum: Human milk oligosaccharide composition is associated with excessive weight gain during exclusive breastfeeding-an explorative study. Front Pediatr. 2019;7:521. DOI: 10.3389/fped.2019.00521

Moukarzel S, Abou Jaoudeh M, Farhat A, Saade M, Mamas C, Daly AJ. Exploring the latitude of attitude: Intentions to breastfeed among adolescents in Lebanese schools. Matern Child Nutr. 2020 Jan;16(1):e12888. DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12888. Epub 2019 Sep 4.

Moukarzel S, Mamas C, Farhat A, Daly AJ. Getting schooled: teachers views on school-based breastfeeding education in Lebanon. Int Breastfeed J. 2019 Jan 8;14:3. DOI: 10.1186/s13006-019-0199-8. eCollection 2019.

Moukarzel S, Mamas C, Warstadt MF, Bode L, Farhat A, Abi Abboud A et al. A case study on breastfeeding education in Lebanon's public medical school: exploring the potential role of social networks in medical education. Med Educ Online. 2018 Dec;23(1):1527629. DOI: 10.1080/10872981.2018.1527629.

Ramani S, Stewart CJ, Laucirica DR, Ajami NJ, Robertson B, Autran CA et al. Human milk oligosaccharides, milk microbiome and infant gut microbiome modulate neonatal rotavirus infection. Nat Commun. 2018 Nov 27;9(1):5010. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07476-4.

Miliku K, Robertson B, Sharma AK, Subbarao P, Becker AB, Mandhane PJ et al. Human milk oligosaccharide profiles and food sensitization among infants in the CHILD Study. Allergy. 2018 Oct;73(10):2070-2073. DOI: 10.1111/all.13476. Epub 2018 Jul 2.

Autran CA, Kellman BP, Kim JH, Asztalos E, Blood AB, Spence ECH et al. Human milk oligosaccharide composition predicts risk of necrotising enterocolitis in preterm infants. Gut. 2018 Jun;67(6):1064-1070. DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2016-312819. Epub 2017 Apr 5.

Wise A, Robertson B, Choudhury B, Rautava S, Isolauri E, Salminen S et al. Infants Are Exposed to Human Milk Oligosaccharides Already in utero. Front Pediatr. 2018 Oct 2;6:270. DOI: 10.3389/fped.2018.00270. eCollection 2018.

Milani C, Duranti S, Bottacini F, Casey E, Turroni F, Mahony J et al. The First Microbial Colonizers of the Human Gut: Composition, Activities, and Health Implications of the Infant Gut Microbiota. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2017 Nov 8;81(4). pii: e00036-17. DOI: 10.1128/MMBR.00036-17. Print 2017 Dec.

Bazanella M, Maier TV, Clavel T, Lagkouvardos I, Lucio M, Maldonado-Gòmez MX et al. Randomized controlled trial on the impact of early-life intervention with bifidobacteria on the healthy infant fecal microbiota and metabolome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Nov;106(5):1274-1286. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.117.157529. Epub 2017 Sep 6.

Lin AE, Autran CA, Szyszka A, Escajadillo T, Huang M, Godula K et al. Human milk oligosaccharides inhibit growth of group B Streptococcus. J Biol Chem. 2017 Jul 7;292(27):11243-11249. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M117.789974. Epub 2017 Apr 17.

McGuire MK, Meehan CL, McGuire MA, Williams JE, Foster J, Sellen DW et al. What's normal? Oligosaccharide concentrations and profiles in milk produced by healthy women vary geographically. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 May;105(5):1086-1100. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.116.139980. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

Seppo AE, Autran CA, Bode L, Järvinen KM. Human milk oligosaccharides and development of cow's milk allergy in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Feb;139(2):708-711.e5. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.08.031. Epub 2016 Oct 1.

Bender JM, Li F, Martelly S, Byrt E, Rouzier V, Leo M et al. Maternal HIV infection influences the microbiome of HIV-uninfected infants. Sci Transl Med. 2016 Jul 27;8(349):349ra100. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf5103.

Alderete TL, Autran C, Brekke BE, Knight R, Bode L, Goran MI et al. Associations between human milk oligosaccharides and infant body composition in the first 6 mo of life. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1381-8. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.115.115451. Epub 2015 Oct 28.

Bode L, Kuhn L, Kim HY, Hsiao L, Nissan C, Sinkala M et al. Human milk oligosaccharide concentration and risk of postnatal transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Oct;96(4):831-9. Epub 2012 Aug 15.

Jantscher-Krenn E, Zherebtsov M, Nissan C, Goth K, Guner YS, Naidu N et al. The human milk oligosaccharide disialyllacto-N-tetraose prevents necrotising enterocolitis in neonatal rats. Gut. 2012 Oct;61(10):1417-25. DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2011-301404. Epub 2011 Dec 3.

Bode L. Human milk oligosaccharides: every baby needs a sugar mama. Glycobiology. 2012 Sep;22(9):1147-62. DOI: 10.1093/glycob/cws074. Epub 2012 Apr 18.


“014 The Milk Moonshot”, Interview with Lars Bode and Alan Daly, by Jennifer Grayson: see blog