The International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) and the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation (FLRF) are excited to share details about the 2022 Trainee Expansion Program (TEP) grant recipients.
The new cohort includes two Trainee Bridge Fund (TBF) recipients and three Trainee Travel Fund (TTF) recipients. Their projects are diverse in scope, yet each one is innovative, ambitious in aim and rich in potential. Thanks to their drive and creativity, these five talented early career academics are emerging as active contributors to the field of human milk and lactation.
We congratulate the 2022 TEP grant recipients wholeheartedly!
TBF grant recipients
Dr. Adwoa Gyamfi, PhD, MPH, BSc., RN (with Post Graduate Certificates in Education, Clinical Genetics and Genomics), University of Ghana
Project: “Designing and testing a community-based lactation counseling model in Ghana: a Trial of Improved Practices”
Adwoa is a Ghanaian with several years of clinical experience and health education in Ghana and the United States. She aims to design and test the feasibility of integrating evidence-informed community-based lactation counseling into Ghana’s primary healthcare system. Her primary objectives are to: identify unmet needs in community-level breastfeeding counseling and support in rural Ghana; train lay volunteers as community-based lactation counselors and public health nurses as lactation counseling supervisors; and test the feasibility and acceptability of a community-based lactation counseling model.
Adwoa will conduct her TBF project at the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, under primary mentorship from Professor Richmond Aryeetey, PhD, MPH and secondary mentorship from Dr. Amber J. Hromi-Fiedler, PhD, MPH (Research Scientist, Yale University).
Dr. Michael A. Pitino, PhD, MSc., hons. BSc., Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto / Hospital for Sick Children
Project: “Proteomic and peptidomic profiling of donor human milk after high-pressure processing and dynamic in vitro digestion simulating the preterm infant”
Michael’s research has been focused on maximizing the nutritional quality and bioactivity of donor human milk, towards optimizing acute and long-term health outcomes of vulnerable preterm infants. He has been investigating alternative processing methods for donor human milk pasteurization to improve both milk quality and milk banking policies, while examining the complex interplay between processing and outcomes during and following digestion. Using highly sensitive mass spectrometry-based techniques, he plans to further investigate the impact of a novel milk processing technique on subsequent protein digestion and bioactive peptide generation using proteomic and peptidomic tools.
Michael will conduct his TBF project at the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, under the mentorship of Dr. Dave Dallas, PhD.
TTF grant recipients
Omobolaji Adewuyi, PhD Candidate, Department of Human Nutrition & Dietetics, Faculty of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan
Project: ‘Multiple micronutrient supplementation and its effect on human milk selenium and zinc levels in the highlands of Nigeria’
Omobolaji’s PhD research is focused at investigating the effect multiple micronutrient supplementation has on selenium and zinc of human milk and serum of lactating mothers. He plans to gain further exposure and build his capacity on laboratory analysis, statistical analysis and modeling, and publication in microbiomics, lipidomic and proteomics. Ultimately, he plans to run larger multicenter RCTs on micronutrient supplementation and effects of micronutrients in human milk in Sub Sahara Africa.
Omobolaji will travel to and conduct his TTF project at the School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia, under the mentorship of Professor Donna Geddes, PhD.
Marion M. Bendixen, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Florida
Project: “The influence of maternal health on human milk biomarkers of secretory activation in pump-dependent mothers of critically ill infants”
Marion is a nurse researcher at University of Florida and a clinical nurse/lactation consultant at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. She aims to determine whether maternal health conditions (diabetes, hypertension, obesity) are associated with differences in mother’s milk biomarkers of secretory activation (SA) and milk volume in pump-dependent mothers of critically ill infants. She plans to gain laboratory and statistical skills analyzing previously collected milk samples for protein, citrate, lactose, macro- and trace elements (markers of SA) to evaluate variations of human milk composition, essential for optimization of nutrition and growth of infants.
Marion will travel to and conduct her TTF project at the School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia, under the mentorship of Professor Donna Geddes, PhD.
Sara Shama, MSc, RD, registered dietitian and PhD candidate, University of Toronto / Hospital for Sick Children
Project: “Understanding the impact of human milk oligosaccharides on the microbial colonization of very low birth weight infants”
Sara’s research focuses on understanding the impact of the mother’s milk microbiota and oligosaccharides on the preterm infant gut microbiota. She aims to learn human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) analyses and gain insights into novel bioinformatic approaches. These skills will allow her to explore the impact of HMO intake on the microbial colonization of preterm infants. Ultimately, she hopes to provide foundational knowledge that can be used towards rehabilitating perturbed gut microbiomes and improving the clinical outcomes of preterm infants.
Sara will travel to and conduct her TTF project at the University of California San Diego, under the mentorship of Professor Lars Bode, PhD.
We and our partners at ISRHML are proud to support these inspiring early career academics. Stay tuned for news from this cohort – this is just the beginning!
More about TEP
TEP is an international professional development initiative for early career scientists. It offers two types of merit-based grants annually to academics seeking to enter or advance a career in human milk and lactation.
TEP 2.0 launched in 2021, offering a total of USD $1.25 million in grants over five years. ISRHML and FLRF recharged TEP after the success of the inaugural program, which launched in 2016 and awarded USD $1.25 million in over 30 grants.
Thinking about applying but are not sure if a TEP grant is right for you? Learn what previous TEP grant recipients have done in the TEP Hall of Fame (PDF).
If you would like to participate in the 2023 TEP grant application round, it is never too soon to start planning – applications open 1 August 2023!
Looking for help with your application? Stay tuned – we aim to launch an alumni and mentor network where you can turn for firsthand input, toward the summer of 2023.
Watch www.tepgrants.org for details.
The International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of excellence in research and the dissemination of research findings in the field of human milk and lactation. These objectives are met through a biennial international meeting, annual symposia and mini symposia, awarding of trainee expansion grants, awards recognizing significant contributions to the field by established researchers, and communication among members and established liaisons with government agencies, public health authorities, industry, and other organizations interested in human lactation.