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Dr. Martin Lee, vice president, clinical research and development

“Every baby deserves to grow and develop. At Prolacta, our work is and always will be about saving the lives of babies.”

I’ve been with Prolacta since Day One. It was nearly 20 years ago that I became the company’s first official employee, and I’ve never looked back. Joining Prolacta is the best career decision I ever made.

At Prolacta, I’ve helped make history by pioneering 100% human milk–based nutritional products for premature infants. Together, we have benefited more than 63,000 fragile babies throughout the world and counting.

In those early days, I had the rare opportunity to be a part of something that had never been done before – to build a brand-new industry from the ground up in the field of human milk science.

It started with an idea that feeding fragile premature infants a diet derived exclusively from human milk could help address the many complications and feeding intolerance issues associated with cow milk-based nutrition. We worked with scientists from around the world to create the first and only human milk–based neonatal nutritional fortifier made from 100% donor breastmilk – and conducted our first clinical trial in 2007. This proved to be the turning point for our company.

“I’ve been with Prolacta since Day One, and can honestly say that working here is by far the pinnacle of my 40-year scientific career.”

Results from that study not only demonstrated improvements in the devasting complications that affect premature infants, such as necrotizing enterocolitis, but also reduced hospital costs. It’s an honor to have been a part of this landmark study, and to continue to help in the innovation process that results in products that help save neonatal patients from the devastation of prematurity.

In my role as vice president, clinical research and development, I am able to continuously sharpen my clinical research skills by organizing studies on our products that have never been done before, and producing data that supports new ideas. In fact, I am currently working on new clinical studies in infants who are born with cardiac and gastrointestinal defects to demonstrate how Prolacta’s Exclusive Human Milk Diet can help them. We do this not because these are huge populations – in fact, fewer than five out of 100,000 infants are born with single ventricle pathology – but because we know that a specialized human milk fortifier could help support their growth and recovery.

“The idea of potentially helping any infant with the precious gift of human milk is what Prolacta is all about.”

As the first employee, it’s been awe-inspiring to see the company grow from a team of two – myself and the founder – to a thriving team of more than 300 employees from around the world. Everyone at Prolacta is passionate about what they do and I love working with each and every team member. There’s a strong sense of comradery that reverberates throughout the company. All of us truly believe that we’re working to make a difference in the world and save lives.

“This isn’t just a job. It’s a quest to change the world. We’re striving to ensure that every baby receives the human milk they need and deserve to survive and thrive.”

I’ve authored or co-authored more than 240 scientific studies. Prior to Prolacta, I spent more than 20 years working at some of the world’s top healthcare companies. I’ve also been an adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles since 1979, and a professor at Charles R. Drew University since 2000.

However, none of these career experiences compare to the meaningful impact I’ve made on the neonatal population in my role at Prolacta, and I am reminded of the value of our work every year. During the holidays, each employee receives an ornament with a number on it. That number represents the number of babies’ lives saved that year from our team efforts. In 2019, that number was 774.

For me, this represents the culmination of the work I embarked on almost 20 years ago at Prolacta. We’ve done great things and will continue to do so as we show the difference that human milk nutrition can bring to vulnerable populations worldwide.