Skip to main content

Faculty

(in alphabetic order of last names)

UC San Diego's Human Milk Institute (HMI) includes more than 30 faculty members from diverse and multidisciplinary backgrounds, including research, education, and clinical care. Their interactions in dedicated working groups and "Think Tanks" is what drives our mission to transform the approach to lifelong health for all people through human milk.

Click on each of the names below for more information about our faculty's affiliations and research interests related to human milk and lactation.

Philip O. Anderson, PharmD, FCSHP, FASHP

  • Philip O. Anderson, PharmD, FCSHP, FASHP

    Philip O. Anderson, PharmD, FCSHP, FASHP

    Affiliate Clinical Professor, Division of Clinical Pharmacy

    Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Anderson's expertise is in the use of medications during breastfeeding. Dr. Anderson developed and continues to maintain the US National Library of Medicine’s Drugs and Breastfeeding Database, LactMed

Gretchen Bandoli, PhD

  • Gretchen Bandoli, PhD

    Gretchen Bandoli, PhD

    Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Health, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Bandoli is a perinatal epidemiologist and pharmacoepidemiologist, studying maternal chronic conditions and medication use during pregnancy and lactation. Dr. Bandoli is also interested in substances used during pregnancy and lactation, particularly alcohol and cannabis.

Lars Bode, PhD

  • Lars Bode, PhD

    Lars Bode, PhD

    Professor, Division of Neonatology and Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics

    Larsson-Rosenquist Endowed Chair of Collaborative Human Milk Research

    Founding Director, Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of research Excellence (MOMI CORE)

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Bode lab is dedicated to research on breastfeeding and human milk in general and Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) in particular. The group's main objectives are to elucidate (i) how milk components are synthesized in the mother’s mammary gland, (ii) how milk composition is affected by external factors such as nutrition, pathogens, or medications, (iii) how milk components affect immediate as well as long-term health and development of infants and mothers, and (iv) how they can serve as natural templates for the development of preventatives, therapeutics, and diagnostics for people of all ages.

Eyla Boies, MD, FAAP, FABM

  • Eyla Boies, MD, FAAP, FABM

    Eyla Boies, MD, FAAP, FABM

    Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Boies is an academic general pediatrician with an expertise in assisting mothers and their infants with breastfeeding challenges as well as teaching medical students and residents about breastfeeding and lactation. Dr. Boies started the Premature Infant Nutrition Clinic in 2008 and continues to serve as medical director. Dr. Boies is a co-author of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s protocol on Breastfeeding the Late Preterm and Early Term Infant.

Itay Budin, PhD

  • Itay Budin, PhD

    Itay Budin, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Department of Bioengineering

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Budin lab investigates lipid chemistry and membrane biophysics across a wide range of systems, including the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) that surrounds fat globules in human milk.

Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH

  • Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH

    Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH

    Division Chief Environmental Science and Health, Department of Pediatrics, and Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science 

    Associate Director of the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, School of Medicine

    University of California, San Diego

Hiutung Chu, PhD

  • Hiutung Chu, PhD

    Hiutung Chu, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Chu lab is dedicated to understanding how commensal bacteria promote immune responses in the mammalian gut. This includes the complex interactions between the microbiota, host immunity, and host-derived glycans such as human milk oligosaccharides and other bioactives in the developing infant gut.

Alan J. Daly, PhD

  • Alan J. Daly, PhD

    Alan J. Daly, PhD

    Professor and Director of Educational Leadership Doctoral Programs, Department of Education Studies

    School of Social Sciences

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Daly's work focuses on the role of social networks in online and offline spaces and the role of those networks on consequences of interest. Dr. Daly has been using the tools of the social sciences and network analysis in social media settings to better understand the flow of information and misinformation related to human milk and lactation. In addition, Dr. Daly's work examines the role of social networks in the movement of knowledge and resources related to human milk and lactation and its impact on human milk and lactation education.

Pieter C. Dorrestein, PhD

  • Pieter C. Dorrestein, PhD

    Pieter C. Dorrestein, PhD

    Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Department of Pediatrics

    Director, Collaborative Mass Spectrometry Innovation Center

    Co-Director, Institute for Metabolomics Medicine

    Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Dorrestein lab has been pioneering the development of mass spectrometry methods to study relationships between diet and health, drugs and health, and to understand the chemical ecological crosstalk between microorganisms, including host interactions. The lab has introduced concepts such as molecular networking, microbial imaging mass spectrometry, 3D cartography, native spray metabolomics to discover metal small molecule interactions, metadata driven metabolomics, ion identity based molecular networking, and reverse metabolomics. The untargeted metabolomics knowledgebase and analysis ecosystem GNPS and its associated tools are now accessed more than 450,000 times a month. These technologies are being widely used for agricultural, diagnostic, and therapeutic applications, and are currently also applied to human milk.

Alessandra Franco, MD, PhD

  • Alessandra Franco, MD, PhD

    Alessandra Franco, MD, PhD

    Associate Professor, Division of Allergy Immunology and Rheumatology, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Franco lab focuses on human T cell recognition with emphasis on the pathogenic role of T cells in inflammatory conditions, T cell responses to vaccines, antigen presentation to T cells and T cell-B cell cooperation. Human milk transfers to the baby not only nutrients and humoral immunity (antibodies) but also innate and adaptive immune cells. The scope of the Franco lab is to define the mother/baby immunological micro-chimera via passive transfer of T cells during lactation.

James Friend, PhD

  • James Friend, PhD

    James Friend, PhD

    Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Jacobs School of Engineering

    Professor, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine

    Affiliate Professor of Bioengineering

    Medically Advanced Devices Lab

    Co-Director, Center for Medical Device Engineering and Biomechanics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Friend lab produces devices to measure infant suckling during breastfeeding targeted at the outpatient clinic. The aim is to transform this practice from a subjective experience based on indirect data such as perceived suckling on the clinician's finger and baby weight to an objective diagnosis based on suckling vacuum that is directly correlated to breastfeeding success.

Jack A. Gilbert, PhD

  • Jack A. Gilbert, PhD

    Jack A. Gilbert, PhD

    Professor of Pediatrics, Biology Section Head Professor Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Director of UC San Diego Microbiome Core, Director for UC San Diego Microbiome and Metagenomics Center

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Gilbert lab works on identifying microbes and microbial metabolism that are linked to various health and disease states in animals and humans, with a focus on immunological, neurological and digestive diseases and health states. Human milk is a critical feature of human nutrition, and one as with all diets, mediated by gut microbial metabolism; understanding how this critical dietary resource influences human develop has wide reaching implications for all Dr Gilbert’s research questions.

Tara J. Glenn, MD

  • Tara J. Glenn, MD

    Tara J. Glenn, MD

    Assistant Professor, Division of Neonatology

    Co-Director of Quality, Division of Neonatology

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Glenn's focus on human milk involves quality improvement initiatives aimed at increasing provision of human milk, specifically mother's own milk, for infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. The benefits for this vulnerable population are vast and this population represents unique challenges to breastfeeding. Her previous work focused on increasing infants receiving a first feed of mother’s own milk. Currently, Dr. Glenn is working to increase human milk at discharge with a focus on establishment of supply and direct breastfeeding.

Philip Gordts, PhD

  • Philip Gordts, PhD

    Philip Gordts, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Gordts lab is interested in evaluating the impact of nutritional components and bioactives, such as human milk oligosaccharide, on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Specifically, the lab focuses on studying the influence of dietary glycans and lipids on lipoprotein metabolism and low-grad diet-induced inflammation in the liver, adipose tissue, and heart.

Drew Hall, PhD

  • Drew Hall, PhD

    Drew Hall, PhD

    Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

    Affiliate Professor, Department of Bioengineering

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Hall lab develops biosensors that enable point-of-care, sample-to-answer quantitative measurements of human milk oligosaccharides and other human milk bioactives.

Shannon Kim, MD, MPH

  • Shannon Kim, MD, MPH

    Shannon Kim, MD, MPH

    Assistant Clinical Professor, Division of Academic General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Kim is a general pediatrician who provides lactation support and counseling to help breastfeeding families achieve their infant and toddler feeding goals.

Rob Knight, PhD

  • Rob Knight, PhD

    Rob Knight, PhD

    Wolfe Family Endowed Chair in Microbiome Research

    Rady Children's Hospital San Diego

    Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Bioengineering, and Computer Science and Engineering

    Director, Center for Microbiome Innovation

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Knight lab characterizes the human microbiome and the impact of human milk on its development, develops low-biomass sequencing protocols that are suitable for studying microbes in human milk and other difficult to sequence habitats.

Henry C. Lee, MD

  • Henry C. Lee, MD

    Henry C. Lee, MD

    Professor of Clinical Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Lee studies of the benefits of human milk for preterm infants in the NICU across the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative, a network of more than 130 NICUs. He has worked on implementation and evaluation of quality improvement in order to improve uptake of human milk use and studies disparities in access to human milk across vulnerable populations.

Michelle Leff, MD, IBCLC, FAAP

  • Michelle Leff, MD, IBCLC, FAAP

    Michelle Leff, MD, IBCLC, FAAP

    Professor of Pediatrics

    Newborn Hospitalist/General Pediatrician

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Leff works clinically in Breastfeeding Medicine and is involved with various research projects including medications effects on human milk, assessment of infant suck, and mechanisms for improving breastfeeding success.

Sandra L. Leibel, MD, MS

  • Sandra L. Leibel, MD, MS

    Sandra L. Leibel, MD, MS

    Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Leibel's interest in human milk stem from the patient population she cares for primarily: preterm infants. Their prematurity delays breastfeeding, and they rely on a nasogastric tube for milk feeds which may impact their microbiome and metabolome. Dr. Leibel is part of a quality improvement team supporting early exposure to the breast in preterm infants (called WeeNuzzle) with the aim to increase human milk at discharge for preterm infants. Dr. Leibel also studies changes in the oral and stool microbiome and metabolome of the preterm infant along with the maternal human milk microbiome and metabolome before and after the initiation of oral feeds.

Sydney Leibel, MD, MPH

  • Sydney Leibel, MD, MPH

    Sydney Leibel, MD, MPH

    Associate Professor, Division of Allergy/Immunology, Department of Pediatrics

    Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Leibel is interested in early life exposures and the development of atopic conditions particularly in vulnerable populations. Dr. Leibel is involved in research that looks at the effects of human milk on the human microbiome and metabolome during a "critical window" of immune development during infancy in preterm and term infants.

Nathan E. Lewis, PhD

  • Nathan E. Lewis, PhD

    Nathan E. Lewis, PhD

    Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Bioengineering

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Lewis lab deploys and develops systems biology approaches to study the synthesis and biological functions of human milk oligosaccharides and lipids.

George Y. Liu, MD, PhD

  • George Y. Liu, MD, PhD

    George Y. Liu, MD, PhD

    Professor and Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Liu lab is interested in the beneficial role of human milk on infant gut microbiome and immune development.

Christopher Longhurst, MD, MS

  • Christopher Longhurst, MD, MS

    Christopher Longhurst, MD, MS

    Clinical Professor of Pediatrics & Biomedical Informatics

    Associate Dean & Chief  Medical Officer

    University of California, San Diego

     

    As a practicing pediatrician in the newborn nursery and a founding advisory board member of the UC Health Milk Bank, Dr. Longhurst's interests lie in improving operational efficiency and reducing costs of donor milk through innovation, and disseminating our learning through scholarship.

Christian M. Metallo, PhD

  • Christian M. Metallo, PhD

    Christian M. Metallo, PhD

    Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory

    The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

    Adjunct Professor, Department of Bioengineering

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Metallo lab is interested in understanding how amino acid and lipid diversity in human milk correlate with disease states in mother and child. The lab is also interested in elucidating the cellular functions of glycolipids abundant in human milk.

Jeremiah Momper, PharmD, PhD

  • Jeremiah Momper, PharmD, PhD

    Jeremiah Momper, PharmD, PhD

    Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Momper lab works on quantitative determination of drugs and metabolites in human milk using mass spectrometry as well as on pharmacokinetic modeling and simulation to predict drug exposures in breastfed infants.

Victor Nizet, MD

  • Victor Nizet, MD

    Victor Nizet, MD

    Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair for Basic Research, Department of Pediatrics

    Distinguished Professor, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Nizet laboratory is involved in interdisciplinary research on how human milk bioactives influence host-pathogen interactions, innate immunity, and the human microbiome.

Amy L. Non, PhD, MPH

  • Amy L. Non, PhD, MPH

    Amy L. Non, PhD, MPH

    Associate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Research in the Non lab broadly focuses on biological pathways through which early life adversities can become embedded to affect health throughout the life course. Human milk is a key source of nutrition for infants, but also contains many understudied molecules, such as miRNAs, that shift over lactation and in response to changes in maternal and infant environments. The Non lab is interested in the dynamics of the miRNA content within milk-derived exosomes over time and in relation to maternal psychosocial factors, including stress, anxiety, and depression. The ultimate goal is to understand how these miRNAs within milk exosomes are affected by maternal health, and may send signals to the infant that can alter infant health and development.

Anthony J. O’Donoghue, PhD

  • Anthony J. O’Donoghue, PhD

    Anthony J. O’Donoghue, PhD

    Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The O'Donoghue lab uses enzyme assays, peptidomics, proteomics and imaging agents to uncover the functional role of proteases in human milk.

Piper Sandel, MD, MPH, IBCLC, FAAP

  • Piper Sandel, MD, MPH, IBCLC, FAAP

    Piper Sandel, MD, MPH, IBCLC, FAAP

    Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Academic General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Sandel is a pediatrician and IBCLC. Within her pediatric primary care practice, Dr. Sandel provides breastfeeding support through lactation visits to help breastfeeding parents meet their infant feeding goals.

Vanessa P. Scott, MD, MS

  • Vanessa P. Scott, MD, MS

    Vanessa P. Scott, MD, MS

    Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    Dr. Scott's work focuses on producing easy-to-use, cost-effective devices that objectively measure infant suckling to help improve breastfeeding outcomes in the clinical setting.

Lisa Stellwagen, MD

  • Lisa Stellwagen, MD, FAAP

    Lisa Stellwagen, MD, FAAP

    Clinical Professor of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

    Executive Director, University of California Health Milk Bank

     

    Dr. Lisa Stellwagen is a pediatrician who has been interested in breastfeeding and human milk for many years. At UC San Diego Health she led the team that resulted in the 2006 Baby Friendly Hospital certification and in 2009; worked on the development of the Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition (SPIN) program. In 2020, Dr. Stellwagen launched the UC Health Milk Bank and serves as the Executive and Medical Director.

     

    Dr. Stellwagen's dream is that we help every family meet their breastmilk feeding goals, and that we achieve universal access to high quality pasteurized donor human milk in the NICU.

Adriana Tremoulet, MD, MAS

  • Adriana Tremoulet, MD, MAS

    Adriana Tremoulet, MD, MAS

    Professor of Pediatrics

    Associate Director, Kawasaki Disease Research Center

    University of California, San Diego

    Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego

     

    Dr. Tremoulet is the contact PI for UC San Diego’s Maternal and Pediatric Precision in Therapeutics (MPRINT) Center of Excellence. This project, entitled “Optimization of Antibiotics in Mothers and Their Breastfed Infants Using Pharmacomicrobiomic and Metabolomic Analyses” brings together a team of highly experienced and proven collaborative investigators with leadership roles in maternal and pediatric clinical pharmacology, fundamental research methods and technologies.

Shirley M. Tsunoda, PharmD

  • Shirley M. Tsunoda, PharmD

    Shirley M. Tsunoda, PharmD

    Professor of Clinical Pharmacy, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Tsunoda group focuses on factors influencing the variability of drug metabolism including pharmacomicrobiomics – the intersection of the gut microbiome with drug biotransformation. The group utilizes untargeted and targeted metabolomics and microbiome analysis to investigate how drugs move from mother to infant including through human milk and skin-to-skin contact and the impact on the development of the infant microbiome. The group is also interested in understanding how drugs impact the composition of human milk and ultimately how this may affect infant development.

Robert H. Tukey, PhD

  • Robert H. Tukey, PhD

    Robert H. Tukey, PhD

    Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacology

    Director, UC San Diego Superfund Research Center

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Tukey group has been interested in the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the early signs of Pediatric NAFLD. Along with nutritional imbalance, they have discovered and are continuing to investigate that selective ubiquitous environmental toxicants such as triclosan and arsenic can accumulate in human milk and be delivered through lactation to newborns. During early development and rapid growth, lactational delivery of toxicants can directly induce early signs of Pediatric NAFLD. The underlying mechanisms leading to NAFLD/NASH are being investigated. In addition, the Tukey lab has developed novel animal models that develop severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia in neonates. These mice are being studied to examine the importance of human milk and elevated serum bilirubinemia levels to key in on mechanisms that lead to necrotizing enterocolitis.

Yvonne E. Vaucher, MD, MPH

  • Yvonne E. Vaucher, MD, MPH

    Yvonne E. Vaucher, MD, MPH

    Clinical Professor, Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    As a neonatologist, Dr. Voucher's interest is the effect of preterm infant human milk intake on neonatal disease and longterm neurodevelopmental outcome.

Erin Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP, IBCLC, BCS-S

  • Erin Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP, IBCLC, BCS-S

    Erin Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP, IBCLC, BCS-S

    Speech-language pathologist, Infant feeding disorders specialist, Board certified swallowing disorders specialist

    Center for Voice and Swallowing, Department of Otolaryngology

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The multidisciplinary team of feeding therapists, physicians and engineers is addressing an unmet clinical need for widespread low-cost infant sucking quantification to improve breastfeeding medicine intervention accuracy and efficiency. The group seeks to ease latching and milk transfer difficulty within the initial month of life as a means of preserving long-term breastfeeding.

Alison Wolf, CPNP-PC, IBCLC

  • Alison Wolf, CPNP-PC, IBCLC

    Alison Wolf, CPNP-PC, IBCLC

    Associate Director of the UC Health Milk Bank

    Nurse Practitioner for UC San Diego Health Newborn Service team

    Executive Board Member of the San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition (SDCBC)

     

    Alison Wolf is passionate about creating a strong, healthy, equitable community that encourages human milk feeds for all babies and supports parents through their human milk journey in whatever form it takes. Her positions at the UC Health Milk Bank, Newborn Service team, and SDCBC foster a relationship with parents and the community and her 25 years nursing experience and board certification as a Lactation Consultant help her reach these goals.

Karsten Zengler, PhD

  • Karsten Zengler, PhD

    Karsten Zengler, PhD

    Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics

    University of California, San Diego

     

    The Zengler lab studies the intertwined effects of human milk and the microbiome and how these factors influence early development.