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$1 Million Endowment Gift Supports Annual Human Milk Institute Symposium

The Kohlberg Johnson Family Human Milk Institute Symposium is designed to be a destination for experts and the community alike

Woman breastfeeds baby with ray of light in the background.
A $1 million gift will endow the UC San Diego Human Milk Institute's annual symposium, establishing the Kohlberg Johnson Family Human Milk Institute Symposium. The annual event brings together some of the world's leading breastfeeding and human milk experts, as well as those training in the field and members of the community.

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The Human Milk Institute (HMI) at the University of California San Diego is on the forefront of global research dedicated to better understanding the nature, biology and public health implications of breastfeeding and human milk.

A new $1 million gift will create an endowment to support the annual HMI symposium, which brings together some of the world’s leading breastfeeding and human milk experts for knowledge exchange, strategic planning and visioning. In addition, the event is designed to be accessible and affordable for trainees, including undergraduate, graduate students, researchers and educators, as well as interested community members to attend.

“The UC San Diego Human Milk Institute is a destination for leading global research and advocacy related to human milk,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “We are grateful for this gift, which will allow us to continue to bring scientists, physicians and leaders in the field, together with interested members of the community. This annual symposium provides an unparalleled opportunity for an exchange of ideas, with the ultimate goal of making a difference in the health of children and adults locally and around the globe.”

In recognition of the gift, the annual event will be known as the Kohlberg Johnson Family Human Milk Institute Symposium. The gift will provide funding, in perpetuity, to help cover costs related to the symposium and to ensure that registration fees remain low and accessible for all those who wish to register.

“We are profoundly grateful for this visionary gift that will forever transform the way we convene experts together with the community,” said Lars Bode, professor of pediatrics and founding director of the Human Milk Institute. “At HMI, we strive to discuss and advance breastfeeding and human milk-related topics not detached from but together with the community we live in. That’s where it matters the most.”

This year’s sold-out symposium, held March 18 and 19, is entitled: “A Shared Vision for Human Milk: Synergizing Research, Clinical Care, and Equitable Access.” Presenters include Nigel Rollins, MD, of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at the World Health Organization (WHO). He will present the opening keynote address on “The breastfeeding paradox: Evolving science, competing values and conflicting interests.”

“We envision a future where human milk is the first and critical foundation for human life and equitable access to better health for the global community,” said Mitra Hooshmand, who was recently named the executive director of HMI to formalize the institute’s strategic plan. “Endowments like this are a critical component in expanding the institute and making it programmatically and financially sustainable for meaningful and lasting societal impact. Endowments are truly a gift to society.”

Next year’s Kohlberg Johnson Family Human Milk Institute Symposium is already set for March 4-6, 2025.

The Human Milk Institute was established in 2022 as a wide-ranging, cross-campus initiative housed in the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine. It harmonizes efforts across multiple, ongoing enterprises and programs at UC San Diego related to human milk and lactation.

To learn more about the Human Milk Institute, please visit


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