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Novel research illuminates breast milk’s unique contribution to COVID-19 defense in infants

Yarden Golan Maor, Ph.D., RD, Named 2024 Recipient of Ruth A. Lawrence Investigator Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Human Milk Science

ISBON, Portugal, February 27, 2024  The International Conference on Human Milk Science and Innovation (ICHMSI) has announced that Dr. Yarden Golan Maor is the fifth recipient of the Ruth A. Lawrence Investigator Award for Research in Human Milk Science.

Dr. Golan’s research, titled “Milk antibody response after 3rd COVID-19 vaccine and SARS-CoV-2 infection and implications for infant protection,” analyzed antibodies in breast milk following vaccination and breakthrough infection. Results demonstrated that anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies persisted in breast milk for up to eight months. Infant saliva also contained more abundant immunoglobulin A (IgA) from breast milk than immunoglobulin G (IgG), and IgA persisted longer post-feeding.

Her research highlights antibody transfer to infants through breastfeeding, strengthening the understanding of breast milk’s role against infectious diseases. An independent panel of expert judges selected Dr. Golan’s research because it exemplifies the importance of human milk science and its potential global health significance.

“COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, and I was intrigued by the role that human milk could play in protecting infants from this infectious disease,” said Dr. Golan. “It is an honor to receive this award, and I look forward to advancing our knowledge of human milk through future research.”

Dr. Golan accepted the award and presented her research at the ninth annual ICHMSI conference that took place in Lisbon Feb. 1-2 with a research grant of $10,000.

Currently, Dr. Golan is a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, San Francisco. She has over 10 years of experience in molecular biology and nutrition, and her research focuses on human milk science. She received her Ph.D. in biology/biological sciences from the Israel Institute of Technology, Technion.

About the Ruth A. Lawrence Investigator Award for Research in Human Milk Science

Established by ICHMSI in 2016, the award is bestowed to a medical fellow or postdoctoral scholar in recognition of their outstanding contributions to advancing the science of human milk through original research. It was created to pay tribute to Ruth A. Lawrence, MD. Dr. Lawrence received her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry at a time when few women pursued degrees in medicine. Lawrence is a founder of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) and founder and first editor-in-chief of the ABM official journal, Breastfeeding Medicine. She helped establish the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital and served as the distinguished professor of neonatology, obstetrics, and gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center School of Medicine and Dentistry and as the medical director of the Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Study Center.

For complete award details, visit

About International Conference on Human Milk Science and Innovation (ICHMSI)

The International Conference on Human Milk Science and Innovation is the premier forum covering the latest in scientific and clinical research related to human milk. Renowned scientists and clinicians from around the world attend this annual event to present and discuss the scientific potential of human milk and raise awareness of its clinical applicability. The conference is sponsored by Prolacta Bioscience, the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI), and the Comprehensive Center for Pediatrics.

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