Because trainees are the future of ISRHML….


The Trainee Interest Group (TIG) is a sub-organization of ISRHML dedicated to students, postdocs, and new research scientists and faculty members. The TIG organizes activities that foster academic and professional growth within the field of human milk and lactation research for these junior members.

The objectives of the TIG are to:

•             Connect trainees with each other and to experts/senior members of ISRHML - (networking)
•             Enhance the visibility of trainees to senior members of ISRHML
•             Advance academic and professional growth related to research in human milk and lactation
•             Expand trainee knowledge through Trainee Mentorship Series


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As member of TIG, what activities would you be involved in?

TIG members contribute to ISRHML’s annual and international scientific meetings by:

  1. Assisting in organizing oral presentation and poster competitions
  2. Organizing “Meet-the-experts” sessions and professional development sessions
  3. Assisting in preparing reference workshop material (eg. handouts) and in facilitating workshops
  4. Assisting in event advertisement and archiving

Other activities include developing a periodic newsletter for trainees and organizing webinars and online discussion forums on novel research topics.

Meet the members of the TIG governing committee

The governing committee works with TIG to organize trainee-relevant activities, explores additional activities related to advancing training related to human milk and lactation and bridges communication between TIG and other ISRHML committees.

The Trainee Governing Committee is chaired by the TIG president and consists of a secretary, 3 trainees-at-large and 2 full member advisors.


Co-President, 2019 - 2021: Yimin Chen

Yimin is an assistant professor for the School of Family and Consumer Sciences Human Nutrition Program at the University of Idaho. She practiced as a nutrition support dietitian for 15 years specializing in surgery, gastrointestinal diseases, critical care, and neonatology when she realized her passion in mechanistic research. Yimin’s research interests focus on exploring specific digestion-resistant proteins and digestion-released peptides in human milk that are associated with intestinal inflammation and integrity. She uses: 1) in vitro cell culture models to study cellular responses to digested colostrum, digestion-resistant proteins and digestion-released peptides in colostrum, 2) the neonatal piglet model as a clinically relevant model to study intestinal growth, development, and disease prevention as a function of different milk feedings, and 3) she is in collaboration with level-IV NICUs to determine modifiable maternal characteristics that alter human milk immunomodulatory components, and outcomes in the recipient premature infant.

Yimin’s two main goals during her term: (1) create a resource sharing medium for trainees and other members of ISRHML to optimize and standardize various human milk handling protocols; (2) develop a virtual grantsmanship writing workshop series to improve grant writing skills and increase funding success in human milk and lactation research for trainees.

Co-President, 2019 - 2021: Melissa Theurich

Melissa is a PhD candidate at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Clinic of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich in Germany. She obtained her BSc in Human Nutrition with a concentration in Community and International Nutrition and Spanish from Virginia Tech, and her Master of Public Health from LMU Munich. Her doctoral research is on commercial complementary food use in the EU Childhood Obesity Project, a large multi-center European birth cohort. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certified by IBLCE®. Melissa’s research on breastfeeding has been on international policies and programs at the national, regional and global levels, including infant and young child feeding in emergencies, and she works as an independent Public Health Nutrition consultant for international development and United Nations agencies. Melissa’s goal as the TIG Co-President will be to identify strategies for inclusion of trainees from Europe and low- and middle-income countries.


Secretary, 2018-2020: Sarah Reyes

Sarah Reyes is a PhD candidate and NIH pre-doctoral trainee in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Sarah obtained both her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Human Nutrition and International Studies and MS in Animal Science from the University of Idaho. Sarah’s current research focuses on the bacterial composition of human milk pumped and stored under real-life conditions. Sarah’s goals as Secretary will be to help identify ways to improve the experience for TIG’ers. She plans to do this, in part, by encouraging TIG’er participation through creating more transparent and improved access to meeting notes.

Trainee Mentorship Series Coordinator: 2018-2020:
Dr. Gabriela Buccini

Gabriela Buccini is a postdoctoral associate for Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly (BBF) at the Yale School of Public Health (US). She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) certified by IBLCE®. She obtained her MPH and Ph.D. in Nutrition in Public Health from the School of Public Health, University of São Paulo- Brazil. Both focus on breastfeeding in Brazil. Gabriela’s current research focuses on implementation science, scale-up of breastfeeding programs and lactation management. Gabriela’s goals as Trainee Mentorship Series coordinator will be to (1) engage ISRHML senior members from basic and applied science to discuss topics related to human milk and lactation also broader themes as career development and grant/fund application; and (2) engage TIG members who had successfully completed their trainee expansion programme (TEP) to share their findings and how this experience has impacted their career development.

Member Recruitment and Social Media Chair: 2019 - 2021: Ezgi Özcan

Ezgi is a PhD candidate at the Sela Lab at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research is based on metabolism of human milk oligosaccharides by infant gut microbes. She is interested in developing models to mimic microbe-microbe interactions towards understanding the associations between human milk and infant health. At the same time, she is a certificate student at women, gender, sexuality studies, in which she bridges women’s studies theories with her research in human milk and lactation. As a TIGer, her goals for Social Media/Recruitment, is to use social media as a transitioning platform between the TIGers and ISHRML expertise or a discussion board on research struggles, and scientific methodological debates and concerns that help TIGers collectively grow their knowledge and encourage TIGers to stay connected.

Blog/Newsletter Editor, 2019 - 2021: Laura Galante

Laura is a PhD candidate in Biomedical Science at the Liggins Institute (University of Auckland) in New Zealand. Laura has obtained BSc in Biology and a MSc in Biology Applied to Human Nutrition from the University of Trieste, and the University of Milan, (both in Italy) respectively, conducting the research for her MSc in the University of Reading (England). Laura’s current research focuses on the impact of infant maternal characteristics and sex on milk composition and infant growth. Laura’s goal as new Blog/Newsletter Editor is to increase the use of the blog and the involvement of new trainees in it by launching collaborative and creative activities and to implement the visibility of human milk science to a broad and diverse audience.

Advisor, 2018-2020: Dr. Sarah Taylor

Dr. Sarah Taylor is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the Director of Clinical Research for the Division of Neonatology at Yale School of Medicine. Prior to joining Yale, she was an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina where she also performed her pediatric residency, neonatal fellowship, and received a Masters’ in Clinical Science. She started the Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina in 2015. Dr. Taylor’s research centers on infant nutrition and growth with a special focus and human milk and lactation. In the past, she has received NIH funding to study the effect of vitamin D health on preterm infant bone development and investigate interventions to support preterm infant breastfeeding through the first postnatal year. Currently, Dr. Taylor explores the behavioral and biologic influences on mother’s milk production including methods to mitigate disparities and studies preterm infant gut health and development related to nutritional exposures. She is very excited to play a role in global human milk and lactation research development as a TIG advisor!

Advisor, 2019-2021: Dr. Maria Carmen Collado

Maria Carmen holds a Research Scientist position at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC), Valencia (Spain) and  Adjunct Professor (2007-now) at the University of Turku, Finland.

Her research work is multidisciplinary and includes microbiology, food science, nutrition and human health.  Her team objective is  to characterize the transfer of maternal microbes to neonates and to determine their function in infant health programming. More concretely, her team investigates the impact of early exposures (perinatal, environmental and genetic factors) on milk components (IgA, immune markers, metabolites, oligosaccharides, microbiota) and their impact on infant microbiota and health effects at short- and long-term. She focuses on the understanding of beneficial bacteria and probiotics on host response.