Few research studies have focused on the role of this microbiota-gut-brain connection on human brain development during the weaning period. In collaboration with food scientists from the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis, our goal is to learn how the introduction of complementary foods to breastfed babies effects their gut microbiome and how this this microbial shift might influence their cognition. This information, combined with a better understanding of the gut-brain-microbiome relationship, will help to refine and direct future research on weaning foods, which will in turn help to promote and sustain a healthy gut microbiome from breastfeeding into early childhood, and also provide some insight into adult gut health.
In collaboration with a large research team lead by Dr. Elizabeth Prado, Dr. Lisa Oakes and I have developed procedures to be used in this longitudinal study designed to evaluate impacts on child cognitive development and biomarkers of nutrition and health the Mangochi District of Malawi. In addition, we will be begin testing a longitudinal study in Davis, CA in order to understand contextual influences on cognitive outcomes in 2019.
data quality and power in infant research
Infant research is difficult and expensive, resulting in a field that has been historically underpowered. With Dr. Mijke Rhemtulla, Lisa Oakes and I are examining how various aspects of data quality, variability, and sample size impact our ability to detect an effect (i.e., statistical power). The overarching goal is to provide researchers with the tools to maximize research and recruitment efforts and to further advance infant methodology and reproducibility.