Scientists From Around the World Convene for 10th Year to Study Milk

Davis, CA…There is no “I” in team, but there is one in “milk.” Thanks to efforts by the California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF) and the University of California, Davis (UCD), the “I” in milk refers to “international,” and is indicative of the collaborative efforts of researchers and research end-users from around the world to accelerate the understanding of the biological processes underlying mammalian milk genomics.

These experts will convene October 1 to 3, 2013, in Davis, CA, for the 10th International Symposium on Milk Genomics and Human Health. An event of the International Milk Genomics Consortium (IMGC), which was initiated in 2004 by CDRF and UCD, this annual event provides a collaborative and interactive pre-competitive resource platform for those involved in the study and application of science in the fields of milk and lactation.

Topics for this year’s Symposium include:

  • ·         The milk-intestine relationship, from absorption to protection
  • ·         Milk genomics breakthroughs over the past 10 years
  • ·         Milk composition and human health
  • ·         Human milk diversity

 “When we started out a decade ago, science was in the midst of a dramatic change with spectacular new tools of genomics and systems biology, making it possible to understand all of life in unprecedented breadth and detail,” says Dr. Bruce German, professor, Director-Foods for Health Institute, Department of Food Science & Technology, UCD. “We recognized the value in working together as an international team of scientists, rather than the slower-paced efforts of independent research.

 “The strategy of IMGC is to bring together scientists from around the world and across all disciplines to understand not just how milk is made, but why it’s made,” he adds. “At the start of IMGC, less than 5% of the scientists had ever co-authored publications together; at the present, 45% of scientists have jointly authored publications.”

 The tactics are collaborative. “During the past 10 years, scientists from physical, chemical and biological sciences have collaborated in multiple projects, yet all with milk at the core,” adds Dr. German. “By bringing together scientists from many disciplines, we have learned astonishing new facts about milk.”

Discoveries include:

  • ·         From evolutionary anthropologists: All mammals share astonishingly similar strategies for lactation
  • ·         From nutritional anthropologists: Higher quality of early diets in primates makes them more curious and less anxious throughout the life cycle
  • ·         From geneticists: Milk contains genetic material passing from mother to infant
  • ·         From cell scientists: Milk contains living maternal stem cells
  • ·         From immunologists: Milk guides the development of infant immunity and partially protects infants from allergy throughout the life cycle
  • ·         From microbiologists: Milk contains beneficial bacteria
  • ·         From chemists: Milk contains non-digestible carbohydrates
  • ·         From microbiologists: These non-digestible carbohydrates feed only beneficial bacteria

IMGC is generously supported by multinational and international organizations, such as Abbott Nutrition, Dairy Australia (DA), Dutch Dairy Organization (NZO), Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFA), National Interprofessional Center for Dairy Economy (CNIEL) and CDRF. 

IMGC is managed by CDRF, a non-profit corporation deeply embedded in the California dairy industry and its communities to lead and deliver pre-competitive research and science-based educational programs for an innovative and sustainable California and U.S. dairy industry.

“CDRF invests in both short-term and long-term projects,” says Dr. Gonca Pasin, Executive Director of CDRF. “CDRF programs should predominantly benefit the California and U.S. dairy industry, but some have benefits beyond national borders. This is exemplified by CDRF’s ongoing support and management of IMGC.” 

IMGC organizes the annual Symposium to promote the advancement of milk genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics knowledge tools. “The annual Symposium is our flagship event. It features scientific research related to milk genomics and human health conducted around the world,” says Dr. Pasin. 

“Our goal is to bring the international milk genomics community together, facilitate sharing information and viewpoints, and provide direction for the IMGC on a regular basis,” says Dr. German. “This allows us to build a community with a shared vision on milk genomics.”

Dr. Pasin adds, “This October marks the 10th year of the Symposium. We have learned so much in the past decade, but there is so much more to learn about this living, dynamic, personal and structured mammalian secretion known as mother’s milk.”

IMGC communicates about breakthroughs in milk science and human health through the “SPLASH! milk science update” monthly newsletter. “Collectively IMGC aims to facilitate the transition of experimental discoveries into usable benefits,” says Dr. Pasin. “The newsletter does this in an eloquent and comprehensible manner so all stakeholders remain current with progress in this field.”  

For more information on the Consortium and the Symposium, as well as to sign up for the “SPLASH! milk science update” newsletter, visit: http://milkgenomics.org.

Editors interested in interviewing speakers should contact Laurie Jacobson at imgcinfo@gmail.com.

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For more information about the International Milk Genomics Consortium visit: www.milkgenomics.org

For more information about the California Dairy Research Foundation visit: www.cdrf.org.