Human Milk Oligosaccharides: Nourishing the Infant’s Developing Immune System

Program Date: October 2016
Continuing Education Units: 1.0 Nurse Contact Hours, 1.0 Dietitian CPEU

Course Objectives:

  • Identify the role of nutrition in the developing immune system
  • Define the function of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs)
  • Review the clinical evidence supporting the role of HMOs in the immune system
  • CDR Level: 2
  • Suggested Learning Codes: 4150,5060,3100
  • Performance Indicators: 10.4.2,11.2.5,6.2.5
  • Media Format(s): Group Program and Self-Study (English)

Course Instructor Bio(s)

A headshot of Dr David Hackam

David J. Hackam, MD, PhD, FACS

Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Johns Hopkins University Garrett Professor of Pediatric Surgery Surgeon in Chief and Co-Director, Bloomberg Children's Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital

David J. Hackam, MD, PhD, is the Garrett Family Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University, and Pediatric Surgeon-in-Chief and co-Director of the Bloomberg Children’s Center of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Until Sept 1, 2014, He was the Watson Family Professor of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, co-director of the Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and Associate Dean for Medical Student Research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the Department of Surgery as assistant professor in 2002 after completing Pediatric Surgery fellowship training in Pittsburgh, and General Surgery training in Toronto, where he completed a PhD with Dr. Sergio Grinstein in cell biology.

Dr. Hackam’s clinical practice focuses on complex neonatal surgery. His laboratory is focused on unraveling the molecular mechanisms that underlie several important surgical diseases, including necrotizing enterocolitis, inflammatory bowel disease and trauma, and seeks to develop novel therapeutic strategies to prevent or reverse these disease processes. Dr. Hackam’s team have developed techniques of intestinal stem cell isolation and culture, and are working with tissue engineers and chemists towards the development of an artificial intestine, which has been tested in large and small pre-clinical models. Dr. Hackam’s work has led to the filing of several international patents, and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health as well as several industry collaborations. Dr. Hackam is passionate about training the next and current generation of clinician-scientists at all levels of training, and in building the pediatric surgical services at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. His overriding goal is to ensure that Hopkins remains the destination of choice to care for sick children in our region and beyond, driven by excellent clinical care that is both family centered and innovative. He is a member of the American Surgical Association, the American Association of Physicians, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and is the past-President of the Society of University Surgeons.

A headshot of Dr Rachael Buck

Rachael H. Buck, PhD

Associate Research Fellow, Abbott Nutrition R&D

Rachael is an expert in the field of immune health. In her role as a Discovery scientist she studies the components of breast milk to develop infant formulas closer to the benefits of breast milk. She also helps design clinical trials to study the effects of these nutrients on babies’ development in the first year of life.

Currently, Rachael is leading the pioneering research program for human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). HMOs are beneficial, prebiotic- like nutrients found in a mother’s breast milk that support intestinal and overall health. Abbott has driven the clinical research behind HMOs paving the way for a breakthrough ingredient to be added to infant formulas. The research on HMOs has demonstrated improved immunity benefits similar to breast fed infants. Preclinical research also shows HMOs reduce intestinal discomfort, reduce food allergy symptoms, and enhance cognition, which may lead to diverse health benefits for infants.

Rachael joined Abbott in 1995 and over her career has been awarded a President’s Award for research on nucleotides and pediatric immunity, a Global Discover Luminary Award and an Outstanding Researcher Award for HMO research. She was also named an Associate Research Fellow for her pioneering work. She has authored over 50 articles and filed over 50 patents.

Rachael received her Ph.D. degree in immunology from the University of Cambridge, U.K.

A headshot of Dr Larry Williams

Larry W. Williams, MD

Senior Medical Director, Abbott Nutrition R&D

Dr. Williams received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina, and the MD degree from Duke University. He completed a residency in Pediatrics at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He worked as a community pediatrician before beginning further training in pediatric allergy/immunology at Duke University. He subsequently held faculty positions in pediatrics and allergy/immunology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and at Duke University. At Duke, he was tenured Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Clinical Director of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Principle Investigator of Asthma Clinical Research Center, and Vice-Chair of Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Clinical Investigations. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, where he has been a member of the Committee on Food Allergy.

Dr. Williams joined Abbott Nutrition in 2008 and is based in Columbus, Ohio as Senior Medical Director. He leads the Global Medical Affairs group that includes 50+ physicians and nutritionists around the world. He has been active in educational outreach of Abbott Nutrition around the world in the areas of cow’s milk protein allergy, soy allergy, and tolerance and preterm formulas.


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