The University of Oxford and the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation (FLRF) jointly established the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Oxford Centre for the Endocrinology of Human Lactation (LRF OCEHL) to investigate the hormonal mechanisms or chemicals that control and regulate cells and organs in the production of breastmilk.
Located at the Oxford Women’s Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital (of the Nuffield Department of Women’s & Reproductive Health Medical Sciences Division), the permanent research hub is pursuing:
• Scientific advancement, by contributing cutting-edge scientific research on the molecular determinants of successful human milk production;
• Academic collaboration, by establishing strong collaborations with leading global institutions, developing large scale bio-repositories and contributing to this growing field of study; and
• Public engagement, by appealing to and engaging with external public communities, particularly pregnant and new mothers potentially participating in the clinical studies.
“Hormones such as prolactin are vital for successful breastfeeding, and the mission of our centre is to better understand how these hormones may influence maternal and infant health.” – Dr Fadil Hannan, BSc (Hons), MSc, MBChB, DPhil (Oxon), MRCP, FRCPath, and Director, Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Oxford Centre for the Endocrinology of Human Lactation, University of Oxford
Initial research projects planned at the LRF OCEHL include:
• Endocrinology of the lactation cycle. Researchers plan to establish reference standards for appropriate hormone levels throughout the lactation cycle; investigate how diseases like obesity or malnutrition influence lactation hormones; and determine whether low milk production is due to a hormone disorder.
• Molecular cross-talk between tissues involved in lactation. Researchers plan to examine the communications between tissues such as the pituitary, breast and bone that are responsible for lactation.
• Endocrine communication between mother and child during lactation. Researchers plan to characterise hormones in breastmilk, with the establishment of a milk bank and breastmilk donations from lactating mothers.
• Lactation-related health outcomes in the mother and child. Researchers plan to assess hormonal changes during lactation to learn how they could influence child growth and development and maternal diseases.
FLRF donated approximately GBP 2.9 million to endow the LRF OCEHL. Endowments facilitate financial independence in perpetuity, and thus enable academic organisations to accommodate panoramic research with long horizons.