Milk research

Not every mum can provide enough breast milk for their new bubs straight away. We know donated breast milk can help babies born very early when their mum's milk isn't available, but there’s still a lot we can learn.

We collaborate with researchers and clinicians across Australia to research every aspect of the journey of milk, from what motivates someone to donate, to what makes up each individual batch of breast milk.

Our research themes

illustration of a woman standing next to a breast pump
We want our donors (and their babies!) to be happy and healthy, while learning what motivates them.
illustration of a scientist wearing a white coat standing next to a bottle of breast milk with a tick mark on it
Process and safety
By improving the way we process donations, we can keep more of the good things that make breast milk unique.
illustration of a mother holding a baby in her arms and a scientist wearing a white lab coat standing beside her
Clinical use and benefits
We provide donated breast milk to babies born very premature, but who else could benefit?
illustration of a microscope and a bottle of breast milk with a droplet symbol on it
New products
We’re investigating more ways donated breast milk can help babies with specialised nutritional needs.

Research team

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Doctor Laura Klein

National Milk Research Leader

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Laura works with clinicians and researchers across Australia to understand how donated breast milk can be used to improve outcomes for vulnerable babies. She’s passionate about generating evidence to improve the products and services that milk banks provide to donors and the families who receive donated breast milk.

Laura has a PhD from Harvard University and is an Adjunct Research Associate in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University.

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Doctor Vanessa Clifford FRACP FRCPA PhD

Medical lead, Milk

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Vanessa is a paediatric infectious physician and medical microbiologist. She provides medical oversight of the donor human milk program across operations and research. Vanessa is involved in several clinical trials and research projects designed to improve the quality and safety of donor milk, and to investigate its potential benefits for other babies. Vanessa also works clinically at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. She is a clinician scientist fellow at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne.

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Doctor Leonie Walter

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Milk

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Leonie’s advancing our knowledge about the milk donations we receive, with goals to make processing improvements and give clinicians as much information as possible about the composition of our donated breast milk. That includes looking at how the nutrients vary in batches of pasteurised donor human milk from different donors.

Leonie has a PhD in lactation physiology from the University of Melbourne and a BSc and MSc in Food and Nutrition Science from the University of Bonn.

News from Milk research

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