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K-State Today

April 14, 2015



ADVANCE Distinguished Lecture Series presents Chantal Lau

By Tawny Ochs

ADVANCE Distinguished Lecture Series and Lindsey Hulbert, assistant professor of animal sciences and industry, will host Chantal Lau, adjunct associate professor of pediatrics-newborn at Baylor College of Medicine, at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, in Town Hall at the Leadership Studies Building. Lau will present "Born to eat? The applications of understanding nutritive and non-nutritive oral behavior development in premature neonates."

We all take for granted one of the most basic actions in our behavior repertoire: eating. However, for the premature neonate, the development of nutritive oral behaviors can determine the fate of his or her health and longevity. Lau will present how she combined her experiences with science and motherhood to gain a career in improving the lives of premature infants.

Lau's scientific experience in environmental stress physiology began at the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Science in 1966. Her doctorate in 1970 from University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago, was followed by a first two-year postdoctoral fellowship at her alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley. This was followed by research positions at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Marseille, France, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in 1974. She then chose to be a stay-at-home mom until 1983, when her youngest child started kindergarten.

After nine years at home, she was inspired to return to research and decided that the wisest thing to do was to take on a second postdoctoral fellowship to "retrain" herself. Combining her scientific interest in stress and experience of motherhood, her research was directed on the development maternal behavior in rodents and the effect of stress on the mother-infant dyad and lactation. After obtaining a New Investigator NIH research grant, she continued her research as a research associate followed by a position as research assistant professor at the University of Houston, Texas.

In 1989, she moved to the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, as she wanted to transition from basic animal research to clinical human research. She was introduced to the profound task of improving the health of preterm infants by methods and technology backed by her fundamental understanding of how oral behaviors develop. In 1997, Lau became the research director for the Feeding Disorders Center at Baylor College of Medicine. Her career and innovation led her to developed scientifically proven intervention strategies and novel technology to help the preemie infants "eat like a big baby." She recently transitioned into adjunct professor at Baylor College of Medicine because she is preparing for what she refers to as retirement, but in her eyes, retirement is focusing on her own company that will market her innovative technology for infant feeding.

I hope to gain interest to a diverse range of students and faculty from many backgrounds at K-State as this topic has far reaching implications. For more information about Lau, please visit infanthealthfoundation.org

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