Mothers, breastfeeding infants, families and the community are set to benefit from the creation of major new research positions in human lactation at The University of Western Australia, as a result of a $8.6 million donation provided by The Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation.
The research team will include an Endowed Chair in Human Lactology (the first in the world), a postdoctoral position and a postgraduate opportunity.
It will be complemented by a Chair and supporting positions at the University of Zurich, also funded by the Foundation, with the two research centres working collaboratively to advance global knowledge of breastfeeding and its long-term health benefits to mothers and babies.
The research centres will be focused on Biochemistry at UWA and Medicine at UZH.
The research carried out will set new standards for the care of breastfeeding mothers – until now health professionals have relied to a large extent on experience-based advice to help breastfeeding mothers, but have had limited clinical research and evidence to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of mothers and their babies.
With the establishment of the research centres at UWA and University of Zurich, medical practitioners will soon be able to draw upon new evidence which will allow them to improve the diagnosis and treatment of mothers experiencing breastfeeding difficulties.
The Foundation’s decision to support UWA with this leadership donation is testament to the internationally renowned research in human lactation conducted by Emeritus Professor Peter Hartmann.
Prof Hartmann says the creation of the new research centres will provide a global focus on research into breastfeeding and human lactation, which he hopes will lead to other centres being set up around the world.
“This will have vast benefits internationally for mothers, the nursing community and medical practitioners as for the first time there will be a dedicated discipline for this specialised field,” he says.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson says UWA is delighted to receive the donation from the foundation.
“The establishment of the centres will enable vital research to be carried out, which will help medical practitioners better diagnose and treat patients,” he says.
“The centres will be connected to an international hub of researchers, which will allow us to make a tremendous difference to the lives of women and their infant children.”