ISSR Seminar | The Human Milk Microbiome: a paradigm shift in infant nutrition

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 12:30pm to 2:30pm
UMass Amherst | E20 Machmer Hall

Long thought sterile unless contaminated or produced by an infected breast, human milk actually contains a unique and diverse microbiome. This discovery and paradigm shift were made possible by a combination of careful and targeted culture-dependent studies coupled with molecular, high-throughput sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. A game-changer in terms of understanding and optimizing infant nutrition for short- and long-term health, the human milk microbiome is probably important for early colonization of the infant’s gastrointestinal tract. In addition, its variation might impact breast health in terms of inflammatory diseases such as mastitis and cancer.

In this presentation, Dr. McGuire will discuss the possible origins of the milk microbiome; factors that might drive its variability within a woman and around the globe; potential mechanisms whereby this unique microbiome might influence maternal and infant health; and gaps in research related to this topic.

This event is supported by the ISSR Scholars Program, promoting successful research and grants development for social science faculty across the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. McGuire visits UMass to collaborate with ISSR Scholar Carrie-Ellen Briere. Her public talk is co-sponsored with the College of Nursing and the Department of Food Sciences. Lunch will be served - registration is required.

Dr. Michelle (Shelley) McGuire, Director of the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences and Professor of Maternal/Infant Nutrition at the University of Idaho, is fascinated by all kinds of milk, but in particular human milk which she likes to point out is the only food designed by mother nature to feed humans. Since being introduced to the field of human milk and lactation in the mid 1980s, Shelley has studied a variety of milk components including macronutrients, micronutrients, hormones, immune factors, and most recently bacteria. She is particularly interested in how maternal diet influences milk composition and the health of the maternal/infant dyad and has conducted scores of controlled dietary intervention trials to study this. Shelley’s recent research and interdisciplinary collaborations have introduced her to the challenges and fundamental importance of conducting high-quality nutrition research in non-US populations, and she has now conducted research spanning 5 continents and 10 countries. Also a seasoned science communicator, Dr. McGuire is coauthor of two college-level, introductory nutrition textbooks (Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Foods and NUTR, both published by Cengage). In 2018, Shelley received the Excellence in Nutrition Education Award from the American Society of Nutrition.