Research strategy – HMF
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We are delighted to present the Human Milk Foundation’s first research strategy, which has been developed by the Trustees with contributions from the wider scientific community. This strategy will take us towards our vision which is to provide the evidence needed to support changes in the use of donor milk to help more families feed their babies with human milk.

How will we do this? We aim to bring together milk donors, patients, mothers and families and our supporters with researchers and healthcare professionals to fund world-class research.

As the charity grows, so too will our ambition for funding research with a wider remit and with a wider range of funding opportunities. We will fund the consumables to conduct research with pilot studies and larger project studies, and we aim to train the next generation of researchers by funding PhD studentships.

Our supporters and fundraisers mean a lot to us, and we will strive to meet the rigorous standards required by UK regulatory bodies for charity funding of research to make the best use of the money raised. Within the time-frame of this 5-year Research Strategy we hope to see the first steps in the direction of our vision.

Together, we can nourish change, and make the discoveries that will help more families feed their babies with human milk.


One of the key aims of the HMF is to advance education and research in the field of health in particular but not limited to the understanding of human milk. We hope to disseminate the results of such research to help achieve the aims of this charity which are to support the families that need donor milk, to provide education about breastfeeding and the use of donor milk and to improve human health.

We believe in evidence-based medicine and evidence-based advice when it comes to infant feeding and understanding the impacts on health and wider society of the use of donor milk.


Our research strategy is based on four components: Our Values, Our Main Purpose, Our Key Objectives, and Our Governance and Operational Policies.


  1. Our Values

Compassion – we care about all the families we support, and their stories drive us

Collaboration – we believe in working together to make a better future

Communication – we pledge to ensure the science of human milk is freely accessible


  1. Our Scientific Purpose – vision and mission

Our Vision: We envisage a future where families who wish to are able to feed their babies with human milk. When breastfeeding is not possible, the Human Milk Foundation is working to provide screened donor milk to sick, premature babies in NICUs, and to mothers where breastfeeding is impossible or taking time to establish.

Our Mission: To fund ground-breaking projects in human milk science and support their wider communication.


  1. Our Key Objectives

We aim to support groundbreaking science focusing on our four key objectives.

  1. To investigate the evidence for the use of donor milk and how that impacts on infant health, maternal physical and mental health, and breastfeeding rates.
  2. To understand the composition and variability of human milk within and across individuals and populations, and how donor milk may be used as a therapeutic tool.
  3. To understand the health economic, psychosocial and environmental impacts of donor milk availability and use.
  4. To understand optimal procedures for the preparation and use of donor milk.

The BAPM Report in 2016 highlighted a list of key areas of research, which includes suggestions for research that fall within these four objectives.


  1. Our Governance and Operational Policies

Our Governance and Operational polices can be found on the website ( These include the following:

  1. Terms and Conditions
  2. Conflict of Interest Policy
  3. Codes of Conduct
  4. Open Access Policy
  5. Animals in research policy
  6. Travel policy
  7. Publication, communication and engagement policy
  8. Scientific Conduct policy
  9. Grant Making Policy


The science behind human milk is truly astounding. We believe that by helping this knowledge to spread beyond the lab, parents can make more informed choices about how they feed their baby, and we can work towards improving the health of mothers and babies everywhere.


Currently we are funding pilot studies. These studies will provide £12,000 over an anticipated 6-month period of research. Early stage research career applications are encouraged, as are applications from under-represented and marginalised groups in science and research. At this stage, the scheme is only open to UK-based applications.


You can access the form to submit a grant application to the HMF here. Please direct any questions about the grant application process to