Fortifying human milk with human milk derived components for preterm infants and those with special needs

Harvesting the goodness of human milk for human infant for vulnerable babies


Human milk fortifier for human infants is derived from other mammals and plants. Although, the fortifier components have close homology to their human counterparts, other components from those species may also be present in the fortifier, and these components may influence growth, development and health of the infant. Thus, the best source for fortifier for the human preterm infant should therefore be derived from human milk.

This project provides an opportunity for the student to develop a unique and feasible method to concentrate human milk. Furthermore, biochemical approaches will be applied to determine the bioactivity of the human milk fortifier.


Project goals:

  • Develop a simple rapid method to concentrate human milk
  • Determine the bioactivity of the concentrated human milk before and after concentration

This PhD student project will involve the application of different methods to successfully concentrate human milk. Biochemical assays will be used to determine the composition and bioactivity before and after processing.

Suggested readings


Research team leader: Professor Donna Geddes

Prof Geddes is a lactation biologist, with a major focus on the mechanisms by which breastfeeding programme early and later life health outcomes. She is located at the School of Molecular Sciences at UWA where she measures milk composition in relation to infant outcomes. She leads a large group that works in the areas of human milk microbiome, metabolomics, biochemistry and physiology.


Funding and Collaborations


  • This project is partially funded by an unrestricted research grant from Medela AG


How to Apply 

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Requirements specific to this project:
    • A minimum 2A Honours degree or Masters degree in a related field
    • Undergraduate degree in science/ biomedical science/relevant degree
    • Eligible to enrol in a PhD at UWA
    • Excellent communication skills including oral presentation and writing
Submit enquiry to research team leader 
  • Contact the research team leader by submitting an Expression of Interest form via the button below
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact to proceed with your application


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.