Meghan Azad, PhD | MILC co-Director
Human Milk and Pediatric Epidemiology
Dr. Azad is a Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health at the University of Manitoba, where she holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Early Nutrition and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. Her research program is focused on the role of infant nutrition and the microbiome in child growth, development and resilience. Dr. Azad co-Directs the new Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre (MILC) and leads the International Milk Composition (IMiC) Consortium. She serves as Deputy Director of the CHILD Cohort Study, a national pregnancy cohort following 3500 children to understand how early life experiences shape lifelong health. Research in the THRiVE Discovery Lab is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the US National Institutes of Health, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Azad has previously served on the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation Executive Council and currently serves on the Advisory Board to the Canadian Breastfeeding Research Network. She also serves on the joint US/Canada Human Milk Composition Initiative. Dr. Azad is a Fellow of the CIFAR Humans and the Microbiome Program and an elected member of the Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars. She received the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation Erlich-Koldovsky Early Career Investigator Award (2018) and the International Human Milk Genomics Mid-Career Investigator Award (2020). She was named among the WXN Canada Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2020) and Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 (2021), and received the prestigious Steacie Award for Research in the Natural Sciences (2023).
Natalie Rodriguez, MBA, ACC, CCIP | MILC co-Director
Operations, Strategy and Logistics
In an acclaimed career of truly transformative and translational work, Natalie Rodriguez has implemented new systems, technologies, platforms, initiatives and discovery worldwide. A myriad of credentials, awards, appointments and certifications reflect her fierce commitment to research and ongoing learning by defying boundaries and improving the lives of children and their families. Natalie Co-Directs the new International Milk Composition (IMiC) Consortium, her current projects focus on global health, maternal & infant nutrition, and human milk composition.
Kelsey Fehr, MSc | MILC Biorepository Technician
Lab Management and Sample Analysis
Kelsey is a Research Assistant for the THRiVE Discovery Lab at the University of Manitoba. She specialises in microbiome research and is interested in the relationship between microbial ecology, early-life nutritional and environmental factors, and healthy development. Kelsey manages the sample database and laboratory activities at the MILC Biorepository, including milk macronutrient analysis using a Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) analyzer, and leads the sub-aliquoting and distribution of milk for the International Milk Composition (IMiC) Consortium.
Narges Khodabandehloo | MILC Club Coordinator
Narges Khodabandehloo coordinates the monthly MILC Club meetings. She received her Bachelor of Science in Midwifery from Iran University of Medical Sciences in 2021. She is a MSc student in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and is interested in integrating clinical practice into maternal-child health research. Her MSc project will describe the demographics and needs of lactating parents attending the Winnipeg Breastfeeding Centre.