Lactation Physiology

The graduate program in lactation physiology is focused on studying how the mammary gland develops and utilizes nutrients to assemble milk. Additionally, it is focused on how hormones and growth factors made within the mammary gland coordinate maternal metabolism, particularly to meet calcium requirements, and how environmental stressors might impact the development trajectory of the mammary gland.

Students in this area of research utilize multiple mammalian models (bovine, rodent, human, in vitro culture) to examine the ability of the mammary gland to fully develop and function at capacity during lactation and in order for the mother to maintain adequate health status during this dominant physiological event. They will also explore the dynamic physiology that occurs over the course of mammary gland development and lactation. Students will learn about fetal programming of mammary physiology emphasizing on the implementation and development of management interventions to influence the establishment of an adequate foundation beginning in early life. Additionally, students interested in the interaction of the mammary gland and regulation of whole-body physiology in the dam, the effects of pharmaceuticals on mammary gland function and maternal physiology during pregnancy and lactation, are encouraged to apply. Furthermore, students in all areas of our program will be exposed to a combination of hands-on field work as well as state of the art molecular and cellular biological techniques and models with applied and basic research to understand the fascinating ability of the mammary gland to synthesize milk during lactation, and regress during involution.

Graduate students in this program are able to participate in joint graduate training programs through the Endocrine and Reproductive Physiology (ERP), Interdepartmental Graduate Training Program in Nutritional Sciences (IGPNS), Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBMS), Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (MCP), and Molecular and Environmental Toxicology (MET).

Students completing the MS program in lactation physiology are able to obtain jobs as laboratory technicians, or technical support positions in the industry. Students completing a Ph.D. in the area of Lactation Physiology pursue careers research based positions at academic institutions, government agencies and private industry.

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