Celebrating International Women's Day!

  • News
  • 08 Mar. 2024
Jordyn Wallenborn L

This International Women’s Day, we are delighted to introduce an outstanding researcher who focuses on breastfeeding as a route to accelerate health and development – Dr. Jordyn Wallenborn, PhD, MPH

We met Jordyn in 2021 when she received a research grant from an FLRF-funded scholarship program, TEP. Since then, her work in human milk and lactation has taken exciting new directions. Discover the latest in our conversation below.  

You’re the newest research affiliate at the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Center for Economics of Breastfeeding at the University of Zurich – what do you hope to accomplish?

Collaborating with leading, globally recognized economists, I am eager to elevate human milk and lactation research through a transdisciplinary approach. By joining forces, we can improve upon current research that is often siloed and establish clear causal relationships between breastfeeding and child health and development.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your position as a project leader for Ambizione – the Swiss National Science Foundation at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute?

My team is reassessing and updating the current exclusive breastfeeding recommendations. In the past 10 years, a large amount of new research on exclusive breastfeeding, early childhood development and the infant gut microbiome has emerged. The original World Health Organization reports (2002 & 2012) focused mainly on physical growth in their recommendations. Early childhood development is now recognized as a key factor for children’s longer-term outcomes – it should also be included as a central outcome for defining the ideal duration of exclusive breastfeeding.

We are assembling a multi-country, multi-cohort dataset to differentiate the benefits of various exclusive breastfeeding durations. The updated recommendations will be provided by country economic level (low,- middle-, and high income). Our aim is to make them available in 2025.

How did the 2019 Trainee Expansion Program (TEP) grant help to accelerate your progress?

The research grant invested in my training and networking. One of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of career development is meeting leaders in the field. Because of the TEP, I was able to expand my network and start working with some incredible researchers including Dr. Lars Bode at the University of California San Diego and Dr. Christopher Stewart at Newcastle University. Dr. Bode introduced me to the University of Zurich team – which led to my research affiliate position at the Center for Economics of Breastfeeding. The impact that mentorship and great working partnerships can have on both professional and personal development is truly immeasurable – I am very grateful. 

If you had one wish for a future investment in women, what would it be?

Put women and people of color at the forefront. Still today, many of us do not have opportunities to be leaders. Looking at research events and presentations, hiring decisions and job promotions – they are often governed by white males. Leaders of businesses, institutions and universities need to step up or, as the UN reported last year, women won’t reach leadership parity even by 2050 at the current rate of progress. A simple step: even out the distribution. Having opportunities to be at the forefront – and seeing your peers at the forefront – can make a significant impact on career trajectories of women and people of color.


International Women’s Day was first officially recognized by the UN in 1977

Today, the UN says “achieving gender equality and women’s well-being in all aspects of life is more crucial than ever if we want to create prosperous economies and a healthy planet.” Learn more about the five key areas they have identified as needing joint action here.  

The Trainee Expansion Program (TEP) is conducted in partnership with the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML). TEP offers two types of merit-based grants annually to academics seeking to enter or advance their career in human milk and lactation.

  • Trainee Bridge Fund grants – up to USD 100,000 over approximately 12 months
  • Trainee Travel Fund grants – up to USD 10,000 over a period of two weeks to three months

Are you interested? Applications open 1 August 2024. Find application details here.