Breastfeeding mothers in Western Australia will be among the first to benefit from one of the world’s leading researchers in lactology joining The University of Western Australia.
Professor Valérie Verhasselt has been appointed the Larsson-Rosenquist Chair in Human Lactology – the first in the world – in UWA’s School of Molecular Sciences.
Belgian-born Professor Verhasselt will pursue her key research into the identification of maternal milk factors and their targets in in babies which are critical for allergic and metabolic disease prevention. She will benefit from the renowned expertise of the School in biochemistry and from the rich environment in Perth for translational research dedicated to improving health from birth.
Professor Verhasselt trained at the University of Medicine of Brussels where she obtained a diploma of Medical Doctor, specialist in Internal Medicine (2000) and a PhD in immunology (1999).
In 2004, she moved to the Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis in France and developed the concept of breastfeeding-induced tolerance for prevention of allergy.
Her research has been published in prestigious reviews such as Nature Medicine, Gut, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Lancet Infectious Disease. The French Académie Nationale de Médecine (2012) and Académie des Sciences (2008) have acknowledged her major contribution to the prevention of allergy through maternal milk.
As well as an Endowed Chair in Human Lactology, the new research team at UWA will include two postdoctoral researchers and a research assistant. The positions were created as a result of an $8.6 million donation by The Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation, based in Switzerland.
The Foundation has also funded a Chair and supporting positions at the University of Zurich (UZH), with both research centres working collaboratively to advance global knowledge of breastfeeding and its long-term health benefits to mothers and babies.
The research carried out will set new standards for the care of mothers and their babies and medical practitioners will soon be able to draw upon new evidence which will allow them to improve long-term health from birth.
The Foundation’s decision to support The University of Western Australia with the donation is testament to the internationally renowned research in human lactation conducted over many years by UWA’s Emeritus Professor Peter Hartmann.
David Stacey (UWA Media and PR Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716