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Larsson Rosenquist Foundation - Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding

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About us


An introduction from Professor Valerie Verhasselt, Director of the Larsson Rosenquist Foundation Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding

LRF Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding logo


Making human milk the gold standard for children's immune health.

By this, we mean ensuring that:

  • Human milk promotes child health worldwide
  • Where appropriate, preventive and therapeutic strategies for children are inspired by human milk


Build a holistic understanding of how breastfeeding practices and human milk composition influence healthy immune development.

This knowledge will enable healthcare providers to make recommendations to parents to improve child health worldwide.

Our priorities in the next 5 years will be to

  1. Target vulnerable populations
  2. Bring knowledge on the importance of breastfeeding in healthy skin development
  3. Promote allergy prevention through Breastfeeding
  4. Prioritize our partnerships with Asia

Strategic pillars

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We challenge existing dogma to provide newborns with personalized strategies tailored to their developmental age.
We foster collaborative international, multidisciplinary, and translational research to make high-impact discoveries.
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Through a combination of publication in prestigious journals, presentation to a wide audience, and strong consumer involvement, we ensure that our findings reach those who can implement them and benefit communities worldwide.

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do"

Steve Jobs

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it”

Antoine de Saint Exupéry

These two quotes are perfectly aligned with the three strategic pillars that underpin our mission.


Our Values

We embrace humanity through the values of respect, kindness, openness, and generosity.

We are committed to excellence, learning from the experiences of others, from our mistakes, and always striving to do better.

We value teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration, ensuring that the wonders of serendipity in discovery research lead to effective solutions for all.

LRF CIB staff group photo

Meet our team

Prof Valerie Verhasselt

Director of the LRF-Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding

My passion is to learn from Nature to find the best solutions to promote healthy immune development. With a background in Internal Medicine and more than 20 years of research in Immunology, I want to put the mother-child dialogue through breast milk at the heart of understanding how to reduce the burden of child disease in both high and low-income countries, including allergies, malaria, worm infections, and growth failure. I strongly value creativity and discovery research. Not having a specific goal allows you to be completely open, discover what you did not expect, and marvel at it. And it's in this sense of wonder and freedom of mind that the most beautiful ideas are born, ideas that, without meaning to, can change the world. Importantly, as a Team leader, it is a source of immense gratification to contribute to the empowerment of my team members, to make them aware of their huge potential and to see them blossom.

Dr Patricia Macchiaverni

Program Manager

I am a biologist with a background in Immunology and extensive experience in clinical and translational research in both academic and industrial settings. My academic journey began with a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences and Education, followed by a Ph.D. in Immunology. After completing my PhD in 2012,  I worked for four years as a Senior Scientific Manager in multinational pharmaceutical companies, where I gained valuable expertise in project management, team leadership, and effective communication of scientific data to diverse audiences. In 2017 I joined the LRF-CIBF as a Research Fellow, investigating the link between breastfeeding and allergy prevention in children. Now, as a Programme Manager at LRF-CIBF, my goal is to promote global excellence, foster collaboration, and facilitate communication. I'm all about making science fun and impactful!

E-mail: [email protected]

Nivedithaa Divakara

PhD Student

I am currently a doctoral candidate at LRF-CIBF. My research aims to elucidate the intricate mechanisms underpinning various health challenges prevalent in infants, such as allergies, infections, and nutritional deficiencies. With a special interest in fundamental science, I hope to use my knowledge to prevent/treat high-risk infants using colostrum-inspired bioactive derivatives. Proficient in a spectrum of wet-lab techniques, I specialize in the quantitative analysis of immune bioactive components present in breast milk. I am currently studying the importance of early life diet (colostrum) and its role in skin development. Among other contributions, I have been involved in the SYMBA Randomized Control Trial, investigating the effects of prebiotic supplementation in pregnant and lactating mothers on childhood allergy outcomes. Within this initiative, my responsibilities encompassed discerning the influence of prebiotics on the composition of breast milk. Additionally, I am also skilled in harnessing the power of data analytics tools such as R and R-Studio for comprehensive data analysis.

E-mail: [email protected]

Maheshwar Bhasin

PhD Student

I am a researcher, pursuing my PhD in Public Health and Medicine at CIBF. My current research, the “Colostrum Exclusivity for Early Development (CEED)” Study, focuses on establishing the benefits of exclusive colostrum feeding for healthy development. I am actively involved in educating future researchers in women's health. With a Master’s degree in medical biotechnology and over 5 years of experience as a Project Coordinator alongside of Managing the National human milk bank in India, I bring clinical expertise, infant feeding implementation strategies to facilitate the translation of the research.  My goal is to improve infant health outcomes through breastfeeding.

E-mail: [email protected]

Savannah Machado

Research Assistant

As an enthusiastic research assistant at the LRF-CIBF, I have flourished in our dynamic environment. Beginning as a volunteer in 2019, I pursued a master's degree in Biomedical Science, and eventually transitioned into my current research assistant role. This journey has allowed me to delve deeper into exploring colostrum's role in food allergy prevention, with a current focus on the prevention of egg and peanut allergies, through pre-clinical models. Infant health and development have long been my primary research passions, driving my efforts to understand and promote early-life factors essential for optimal growth and disease prevention.

E-mail: [email protected]

Collaborators and funders

  • Global Human Milk Research Consortium (GHMRC)

    Our team is proud to be one of the five independent research centres that make up the prestigious Global Human Milk Research Consortium (GHMRC). Working together, we are committed to advancing the frontiers of human milk and breastfeeding research on a global scale, making a meaningful contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and WHO Global Targets.

    Global Human Milk Research Consortium

  • The ORIGINS Project

    The ORIGINS Project is the largest study of its kind in Australia, following 10,000 children, from their time in the womb, over a decade to improve child and adult health. Our Centre has two ongoing sub-projects using the ORIGINS cohort: the GAP study (Gateway for Allergy Prevention) and CEED study (Colostrum Exclusivity and Early Development).

    The Origins Project

  • Our main collaborators
    • Public health - Pete Gething and Dr Susan Rumisha, Geospatial Health and Development team, TKI; Sofa Rahmania, PhD, UWA, Prof. Rosalind Gibson and Prof. Lisa Houghton, New Zealand.
    • Pediatricians - including Prof. Suzan Prescott (School of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia), Dr. Ravisha Srinivasjois ( Joondalup Health Campus) Prof. Desiree Silva ( Telethon Kids Institute and Joondalup Health Campus);, Prof George du Toit (Kings College London, UK), Dr Stéphanie De Smet (Hopital de l’Archet, France)
    • Dietician - experts in child nutrition and allergy prevention: A/Prof Carina Venter (University of Colorado, USA); Dr Debbie Palmer (Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia); Dr Therese O Sullivan (Edith Cowan University, Perth)
    • Lactation - consultants Louisa Connoly, president of Lactation college (Perth, Australia) ; Kirsten Tannenbaum, Australian Breastfeeding Association (Australia)
    • Infectious disease - Dr. Thomas Egwang (Kampala, Uganda) project on colostrum and helminth/ breast milk and malaria; Dr Tim Barnett (Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia),   Nelly Amenyogbe and Prof. Tobias Kollmann (Dalhousie University, Canada) colostrum and sepsis; Rick Maizels, Glasgow University, helminth infection; A/Prof. Lea- Ann Kirkham ear health among Aboriginal children (TKI). Juan Rodriguez, Madrid University and Dr. Allison Imrie, UWA, Breast milk and COVID-19; Dr. Leshan Wannigama- Thailand.
    • Neurodevelopment - Prof. Giancarlo Natalucci ( Zurich University)
    • Health economics - Prof. David Yanagizawa-Drott (Zurich University)
    • Biochemistry - Dr. Lars Bode (UCSD) and Dr. Fadil Hannan (Oxford)
    • Microbiota - Prof. David Lynn, (SAMHRI); Dr. Claus Christopherson (Curtin University, Perth, Australia); Remy Burcelin, Inserm, France
    • Transcriptomic analysis - Dr. Tom Iosidifis and Dr. Patricia Agudelo, Telethon Kids Institute
    • Epigenetics - Dr. David Martino, Telethon Kids Institute
    • Skin - Mark Fear UWA, Prof Fiona Wood, UWA, and  Asha Bowen, Telethon Kids Institute Perth 
  • Funders

    CIBF is one of the five chairs endowed by the generous donation of the Family Larsson Rosenquist Foundation By providing financial independence in perpetuity, this endowment enables us to pursue panoramic research with long horizons, in complete independence and freedom of research and teaching.

    We are also grateful to receive grant support from:

    • Western Australia Child Research Foundation
    • Future Health Research and Innovation Focus Grant
    • Channel 7 Telethon Trust
    • Telethon Kids Institute collaborative award
    • Westfarmer Centre of vaccines and Infectious Disease (WCID) seed and partnership grant

Global network

Map depicting recent locations of external collaboration and top research areas from the last five years on country/territory level

Our research

Why translational research into breastfeeding if we already know that human milk is the best?

  • By learning from human milk, we can revolutionize how we care for newborns, offering interventions that are truly aligned with their developmental needs.

    Today, most treatments for newborns are the same as for adults, i.e. mainly the dose is modified. However, we are learning more every day about the differences between a newborn and an adult, and breast milk has known this for a long time. By studying the immunology of breastfeeding,  our research has shown that human milk may know the best way to promote mucosal immunity in infants.

    (Macchiaverni et al., 2024; van den Elsen et al., 2022)

  • To provide advice to mothers and health professionals to maximise the chances of disease prevention through breastfeeding.
    From pollutants to infection and dietary habits, the constituents of breast milk encapsulate a snapshot of the maternal environment, providing infants with a preview of the world they will inhabit. By investigating how human milk composition influences healthy immune development, we are paving the way for personalized advice that can help mothers maximise disease prevention through breastfeeding. Our research has suggested that consuming allergens while breastfeeding may be the best way to prevent allergies in children. Ongoing clinical trials led by our collaborator A/Prof Debbie Palmer should soon tell us whether this suggestion can become a recommendation.
  • Provide strong evidence to invest in breastfeeding support.
    Despite the World Health Organization's (WHO) guidelines promoting early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, at least a third of newborns worldwide aren't benefiting from this optimal feeding practice, due to late initiation of breastfeeding or the administration of formula "supplements" that replace colostrum intake. We already know that colostrum is essential for reducing neonatal mortality in low resources settings. Our ongoing research will establish the importance of colostrum in preventing allergies, parasitic infections, stunted growth and much more.

Our research programmes

Establishing the role of human milk in healthy child development

A healthy immune system mounts appropriate and efficient immune responses that protect us from pathogens, cancer, allergies, autoimmunity, inflammatory bowel disease and malnutrition.

The objective of our research is to gain a deeper understanding of how colostrum feeding and human milk composition support the child’s developing immune system, and how it contributes to shaping the immune trajectory and lifelong health (Fig 1).

Figure 1Figure 1 desciption: Specifically, we have two main programmes: One investigating the benefits of colostrum feeding on child long term health and the other on how we can target breastmilk composition to maximize child health.

At least a third of newborns worldwide receive formula in hospital during their first days of life. This results in newborns missing out on the full dose of colostrum, the “yellow milk” dedicated to the first 2-3 days of a newborn, produced in small quantities and enriched in many bioactive compounds.  While the composition of colostrum is well-studied, its specific health benefits remain poorly documented, except for the prevention of neonatal mortality in low-resource settings (Debes et al., 2013; Group, 2016).To address this knowledge gap, we are conducting basic, preclinical and clinical research in birth cohorts of both low- and high-income countries (LMIC and HIC) to investigate whether exclusive colostrum feeding is required to settle the newborn on a healthy trajectory.

Specifically, we are investigating the importance of colostrum for the prevention of allergy, growth failure, obesity, helminth infection and skin disease.

This knowledge will support the implementation of WHO guidelines for effective colostrum feeding and pave the way for the discovery of novel colostrum-inspired strategies for the prevention of childhood diseases that are developmentally appropriate.

Some diseases such as Allergies and Malaria represent a huge burden for children and society and are not prevented at the population level by breast milk. However, the knowledge of human milk content in numerous and various bioactive compounds highlights a high potential in doing so. This suggests that modifying breast milk composition by maternal interventions may increase the chance of promoting child health through breastfeeding.

Promote Immunity: We are exploring a novel paradigm where the transfer of proteins from pathogens in breast milk would result in infant vaccination (we discussed this hypothesis in (Marchant et al., 2017; van den Elsen et al., 2020). Following our publication in JAMA Paediatrics (van den Elsen et al., 2020), where we proved the premises for this concept in the context of Malaria, we are now further establishing the relationship between malaria antigen shedding in breast milk and infant immunisation in a prospective birth cohort of 400 mothers in Uganda. The results of this project will open up avenues for malaria prevention, such as promoting the shedding of malaria antigens in breast milk to best immunise the child.

Promote tolerance: In the context of allergic disease prevention, we continue our research on how human milk can educate the infant's immune system towards immune tolerance to allergens. Our latest research is taking advantage of a randomised control trial, SYMBA, that is assessing the effect of a maternal dietary intervention of prebiotic supplementation during pregnancy and lactation, to reduce allergic disease outcomes in infants. We are addressing the impact of this intervention on the milk composition and we aim to establish whether there is a breast milk composition that is associated with a lesser risk of allergy in children .

What are our main discoveries?

  • 1 - The benefits of colostrum on long-term health

    Colostrum is required for gut immune development and successful anti-helminth defences (Rekima et al., 2024)

    Worldwide, more than 1.5 billion people, or 25% of the world's population, are infected with soil-transmitted helminths, and infected children are nutritionally and physically impaired, with major societal and economic consequences.

    In a unique preclinical model of colostrum deprivation, we showed that colostrum is essential for the expansion of key immune cells in the gut for helminth infection control (type 2 innate lymphoid immune cells). Microbiota was not required for this. We also showed in a proof-of-concept birth cohort in Uganda that providing the first drops of colostrum to a newborn is associated with a major decrease in helminth infections in childhood.

    In conclusion, our study provides new evidence on how to reduce a major disease burden, helminth infection: promote colostrum feeding! This study highlights that we can learn from colostrum to design interventions tailored to neonates that promote health (and go beyond microbiota intervention

    a diagram demonstrating colostrum a long-lasting gut immunity booster
  • 2 - Target breastmilk composition to maximize child health through breastfeeding

    a) The milky way to promote immunity

    Colostrum and IgA are most effective in protecting against COVID-19 infection (Macchiaverni et al., 2024). Newborns will remain the only immunologically naïve and vulnerable population as long as SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate and infect us, probably for a long time.  We therefore need a specific approach to COVID-19 prevention in newborns. In a birth cohort from Spain, we showed that the highest protective activity of human milk against COVID-19 was found in the colostrum of infected mothers and depended on anti-SARS-CoV-2-specific IgA. Our findings support the need to evaluate maternal mucosal COVID-19 vaccination to promote IgA secretion at mucosal sites, including breast milk, for best child protection. They highlight the importance of promoting support for successful breastfeeding initiation. Despite WHO guidelines, a high proportion of newborns are still not fully colostrum-fed, especially if their mothers are infected with COVID-19.

    Diagram describing the protective effect of human milk against COVID-19

    Pathogen antigen shedding in breast milk to vaccinate infants. Based on our observation that some antigens in maternal milk stimulate a long-term immune response in the offspring ((Baiz et al., 2017; Macchiaverni et al., 2014; Rekima et al., 2020), we proposed that the transfer of microbial antigens in breast milk may be the most efficient way to vaccinate infants (Marchant et al., 2017; van den Elsen et al., 2022; Verhasselt, 2015). Pathogen in breast milk would be the perfect attenuated vaccine or pathogens antigens would be surrounded by adjuvants designed for the developing infant mucosa. We proved the premises of this hypothesis in the context of Malaria by showing that malaria antigens are found in human milk (van den Elsen, et al. 2022).

    diagram showing pathogen antigen shedding in breast milk to vaccinate infants

    b) The milky way to promote immune tolerance

    Educating the immune system through breast milk for allergy prevention: In 2008, we challenged the paradigm of allergen avoidance for allergy prevention and demonstrated that egg allergen shedding in maternal milk would educate the infant immune system and decrease egg allergy susceptibility (Verhasselt et al., 2008). We confirmed this in a birth cohort study (Verhasselt et al., 2020). We further elucidated the factors required to increase allergy prevention by allergen shedding in breastmilk such as Vitamin A (Turfkruyer et al., 2016) and TGF-beta in breastmilk (Rekima et al., 2016) or maternal immunization (Adel-Patient et al., 2020; Mosconi et al., 2010). Recently, we have uncovered an unexpected risk factor for respiratory but also food allergy: respiratory house dust mite allergens in breast milk (Baiz et al., 2017; Macchiaverni et al., 2014; Rekima et al., 2020). Our recent review in the first-ranked journal in Allergy (JACI) highlights the importance of allergens in breast milk for immune system education (Macchiaverni et al., 2021). This knowledge will guide infant-tailored preventive approaches to efficiently decrease the burden of allergy (Macchiaverni et al., 2021).

    diagram demonstrating educating the immune system through breast milk for allergy prevention

Signature strengths

Our centre takes a collaborative, multidisciplinary, translational approach to provide a holistic understanding of the impact of breastfeeding on infant immunity. Our key strengths are:

Our centre has developed unique experimental models to understand complex biological processes related to breastfeeding's influence on infant immune development. These models provide invaluable insights into the mechanisms underlying maternal milk's influence on immune development.

We possess a rare expertise in newborn immunology and specialize in the analysis of human milk , including allergens and immunomodulatory compounds. This expertise allows us to unravel the intricate interactions between breast milk components and the developing immune system.

We have access to multiple large-scale birth cohort data sets from both high and low incomes settings, enabling us to verify our findings from the preclinical model and to guide our future fundamental research

Based at the Telethon Kids Institute and affiliated to The University of Western Australia,  our center benefits from world-class facilities, an esteemed academic community, and opportunities to mentor future researchers in children’s health.

We owe much of our success to the generous financial support and strategic guidance of the Larsson Rosenquist Foundation.


The Benefits of colostrum on long-term health

Targeting breastmilk composition to maximize child health

  • Maternal environment and milk composition
    1. Munblit D, Verhasselt V, Warner JO. Editorial: Human Milk Composition and Health Outcomes in Children. Front Pediatr, 2019.
    2. Samuel TM, Zhou Q, Giuffrida F, Munblit D, Verhasselt V, Thakkar SK. Nutritional and Non-nutritional Composition of Human Milk Is Modulated by Maternal, Infant, and Methodological Factors. Front Nutr. 2020.
    3. Macchiaverni P, Gehring U, Rekima A, Wijga AH, Verhasselt V. House dust mites: Does a clean mattress mean Der p 1-free breastmilk? Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2020.
    4. Verhasselt V. Breastfeeding, a Personalized Medicine with Influence on Short- and Long-Term Immune Health. Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2020
    5. Rodriguez JM, Fernandez L, Verhasselt V. The Gut‒Breast Axis: Programming Health for Life. Nutrients, 2021.
  • Gut Immunity and Microbiome
    1. van den Elsen LWJ, Rekima A, Verhasselt V. Early-Life Nutrition and Gut Immune Development. Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2019
    2. van den Elsen LWJ, Garssen J, Burcelin R, Verhasselt V. Shaping the Gut Microbiota by Breastfeeding: The Gateway to Allergy Prevention? Front Pediatr. 2019.
    3. van den Elsen LWJ, Verhasselt V. Human Milk Drives the Intimate Interplay Between Gut Immunity and Adipose Tissue for Healthy Growth. Front Immunol. 2021.
    4. Parkin K, Christophersen CT, Verhasselt V, Cooper MN, Martino D. Risk Factors for Gut Dysbiosis in Early Life. Microorganisms. 2021
    5. Parkin K, Palmer DJ, Verhasselt V, Amenyogbe N, Cooper MN, Christophersen CT, Prescott SL, Silva D, Martino D. Metagenomic Characterisation of the Gut Microbiome and Effect of Complementary Feeding on Bifidobacterium spp. in Australian Infants. Microorganisms. 2024.
  • Allergy
    1. Rekima A, Macchiaverni P, Turfkruyer M, Holvoet S, Dupuis L, Baiz N, Annesi-Maesano I, Mercenier A, Nutten S, Verhasselt V. Long-term reduction in food allergy susceptibility in mice by combining breastfeeding-induced tolerance and TGF-beta-enriched formula after weaning. Clin Exp Allergy, 2017.
    2. Baiz N, Macchiaverni P, Tulic MK, Rekima A, Annesi-Maesano I, Verhasselt V, et al. Early oral exposure to house dust mite allergen through breast milk: A potential risk factor for allergic sensitization and respiratory allergies in children. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2017.
    3. Holvoet S, Perrot M, de Groot N, Prioult G, Mikogami T, Verhasselt V, Nutten S. Oral Tolerance Induction to Newly Introduced Allergen is Favored by a Transforming Growth Factor-beta-Enriched Formula. Nutrients. 2019.
    4. Verhasselt V, Genuneit J, Metcalfe JR, Tulic MK, Rekima A, Palmer DJ, Prescott SL. Ovalbumin in breastmilk is associated with a decreased risk of IgE-mediated egg allergy in children. 2020.

    IF 14, top 1% journal: This work is the translation of a study Prof. Valerie Verhasselt published in Nature Medicine, which proposed a novel concept of allergy prevention through oral tolerance induction through breastfeeding using a preclinical model. Here, we demonstrate for the first to demonstrate that having egg antigen in breastmilk may decrease egg allergy risk in children. This is a major step towards the identification of factors contributing to allergy prevention through breastmilk.

    1. Adel-Patient K, Bernard H, Fenaille F, Hazebrouck S, Junot C, Verhasselt V. Prevention of Allergy to a Major Cow's Milk Allergen by Breastfeeding in Mice Depends on Maternal Immune Status and Oral Exposure During Lactation. Front Immunol. 2020.
    2. de Silva D, Halken S, Singh C, Muraro A, Angier E, Arasi S… Verhasselt V, et al. Preventing immediate-onset food allergy in infants, children and adults: Systematic review protocol. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2020.
    3. de Silva D, Halken S, Singh C, Muraro A, Angier E, Arasi S… Verhasselt V, et al. Preventing food allergy in infancy and childhood: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2020.

    IF 7. Top 10% journal: Prof. Valerie Verhasselt was asked to join this task force to bring her knowledge on human milk and allergy prevention. Importantly, this systematic review precedes the establishment of EAACI guidelines on food allergy prevention, demonstrating expertise on policies.

    1. Rekima A, Bonnart C, Macchiaverni P, Metcalfe J, Tulic MK, Halloin N, Rekima S, Genuneit J, Zanelli S, Medeiros S, Palmer DJ, Prescott S, Verhasselt V. A role for early oral exposure to house dust mite allergens through breast milk in IgE-mediated food allergy J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020.

    IF 14. Top 1% journal:  In this publication we propose a paradigm shift: the presence of respiratory allergen in breastmilk from house dust mites, may represent a risk factor for food allergy. We have identified the mechanisms in the mice, which provides new targets to tackle for allergy prevention in breastfed children. We have also shown preliminary evidence of these findings in a birth cohort. This publication has been selected to be presented as Editor Choice to be published in the Issue of May 2020

    1. Shamji MH, Valenta R, Jardetzky T, Verhasselt V, Durham SR, Wurtzen PA, et al. The role of allergen-specific IgE, IgG and IgA in allergic disease. Allergy. 2021.
    2. Macchiaverni P, Rekima A, van den Elsen L, Renz H, Verhasselt V. Allergen shedding in human milk: Could it be key for immune system education and allergy prevention? J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2021.
    3. Halken S, Muraro A, de Silva D, Khaleva E, Angier E, Arasi S… Verhasselt V, et al. EAACI guideline: Preventing the development of food allergy in infants and young children (2020 update). Pediatr Allergy Immunol, 2021.
    4. Vandenplas Y, Meyer R, Chouraqui JP, Dupont C, Fiocchi A, Salvatore S, Shamir R, Szajewska H, Thapar N, Venter C, Verhasselt V. The role of milk feeds and other dietary supplementary interventions in preventing allergic disease in infants: Fact or fiction? Clin Nutr. 2021.
    5. Macchiaverni P, Gehring U, Rekima A, Wijga AH, Verhasselt V. House Dust Mite Exposure through Human Milk and Dust: What Matters for Child Allergy Risk? 2022.
    6. Gamirova A, Berbenyuk A, Levina D, Peshko D, Simpson MR, Azad MB, Järvinen KM, Brough HA, Genuneit J, Greenhawt M, Verhasselt V, et al. Food Proteins in Human Breast Milk and Probability of IgE-Mediated Allergic Reaction in Children During Breastfeeding: A Systematic Review. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2022.
  • Immune priming
    1. Marchant A, Sadarangani M, Garand M, Dauby N, Verhasselt V, et al. Maternal immunisation: collaborating with mother nature. Lancet Infect Dis. 2017.
      IF 56, top 1% journal: This review highlights the importance and potential of maternal immunisation in reducing infant morbidity and mortality. Here we explore the impact of pregnancy on vaccine response, the transfer of maternal immunity to the infant, including the potential for active immunisation of the infant through breast milk.

    2. Renz H, Adkins BD, Bartfeld S, Blumberg RS, Farber DL, Garssen J, Ghazal P, Hackam DJ, Marsland BJ, McCoy KD, Penders J, Prinz I, Verhasselt V, et al. The neonatal window of opportunity-early priming for life. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018.

    3. van den Elsen LWJ, Verhasselt V, Egwang T. Malaria Antigen Shedding in the Breast Milk of Mothers From a Region With Endemic Malaria. JAMA Pediatr. 2020.
      IF 26. Top 1% journal: This study brings a novel concept of possible malaria prevention through the presence of malaria antigens in breastmilk. Importantly, it shows the wide impact of our research.

    4. van den Elsen LWJ, Kollmann TR, Verhasselt V. Microbial antigen in human milk: a natural vaccine? Mucosal Immunol. 2022.
  • Immune defence
    1. Macchiaverni P, Lloyd M, Masters L, Divakara N, Panta K, Imrie A, Sánchez-García L, Pellicer A, Rodriguez JM, Verhasselt V. Specific IgA, But Not IgG, in Human Milk From COVID-19-infected Mothers Neutralizes SARS-CoV-2. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2024.

In the news

Professor Valerie and her team

Colostrum provides long-lasting immunity boost for babies

World Breastfeeding Day CARD

UWA stepping up for breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week

UWA’s leading breastfeeding research improving child health locally and internationally

A woman breastfeeding a child

UWA’s leading breastfeeding research improving child health locally and internationally

Telethon Kids Institute logo

World Breastfeeding Week: Q&A


Bid to adapt breastmilk to prevent bad reactions

Connect with us

Community Engagement

Are you passionate about infant health and breastfeeding?

The LRF Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding is leading research into how we can promote a happy childhood with optimal growth, no allergies, and no infections. We want to learn from human milk to provide the most appropriate care for newborn.

If you want to be involved, we invite you to join our consumer group.

By becoming part of our Consumer Group, you will:

  • Share experiences and insights to help guide our research.
  • Provide cultural guidance to ensure our research is inclusive and relevant to a broad community
  • Help communicate research findings to families and communities

What is involved?

  • Participate in 2x presential or virtual meetings per year.
  • Review grant applications and lay audience communications (e.g., social media).

You will be compensated with an honorarium for your contributions and time

How to Get Involved: To express your interest or learn more, please contact us at: [email protected]

LRF Centre for Immunology and Breastfeeding consumer group flyer

Contact us

Join us

If you're as passionate about human milk and infant health research as we are, we'd be thrilled to have you on board. Email us if you want to explore available opportunities further. 


Telethon Kids Institute – Level 7
Northern Entrance, Perth Children's Hospital
15 Hospital Ave, Nedlands WA 6009


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