Human milk is significant for long-term health. Not only does it reduce the short-term morbidity rate among premature and newborn infants; by conferring passive immunity and preventing allergies, it positively influences human health well into adulthood. Surprisingly however, the topic of human milk nutrition and breastfeeding remains under-researched. With a view to closing knowledge gaps and gaining valuable new insights in this field, the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation is funding the first medical professorship worldwide for human lactation research. The professorship will be established from 2016 at the University of Zurich for an indefinite period, but for a minimum of 25 years. The endowment sum of 20 million Swiss francs will be transferred to the UZH Foundation in a single payment; the funds will then be invested and used in accordance with the Foundation’s mission.
Close collaboration with UniversityHospital and University Children’s Hospital
“We are delighted to receive the generous donation from the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation. The endowed professorship will be established at UZH’s Faculty of Medicine, providing an optimal framework for interdisciplinary collaboration and research cooperation with both the Department of Neonatology at the UniversityHospital Zurich and the Department for Pediatrics at the University Children’s Hospital,” says Michael Hengartner, President of the University of Zurich. UZH doctors-in-training will benefit from this development, and new research outcomes will extend the body of knowledge in this globally relevant field. Hengartner believes, “The professorship will further strengthen the international reputation of UZH in medical research and boost the performance and research activities in pediatrics.”
The future professorship is under the patronage of Felix Sennhauser, Medical Director of the University Children’s Hospital Zurich and Dirk Bassler, Medical Director of the Department of Neonatology at the UniversityHospital Zurich. The endowed professorship will benefit strongly both from the internationally renowned longitudinal studies being undertaken at the Children’s Hospital and from the Department of Neonatology at the UniversityHospital with its specialization on evidence-based methods.
Unique Foundation Mission
The Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation is the first foundation worldwide whose sole focus is on human milk and breastfeeding. “The Foundation chose the University of Zurich for the endowment because of its favorable medical research conditions which enable high-caliber interdisciplinary studies in both basic and clinical research,” says Michael Larsson, President of the Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation.
Second Chair in Perth
As a complement to the endowed professorship at the University of Zurich, the Foundation is also funding a Chair for Human Lactology at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in Perth. It is the world’s first chair in biochemistry for human lactology and will be funded by the foundation via an endowment of 8.6 million Australian dollars.
“For the foundation, the two endowments are a significant first step in promoting scientific and public recognition of human milk nutrition. By anchoring these in medical and biochemistry faculties, we aim to ensure that a multidisciplinary approach to human milk research is applied at both universities,” Larsson adds. Accordingly, the research teams at UZH and UWA will collaborate through the sharing of research results and via student exchange programs.