The Koch lab will explore how maternal antibodies promote early childhood growth and health. Breastfeeding has long been touted for providing babies with the maternal antibodies that protect them from infections until their own immune systems can develop. As a postdoctoral fellow, I made the surprising discovery that maternal antibodies also promote infant growth by fostering the establishment of a healthy assortment of beneficial gut bacteria. Now, using techniques from molecular immunology, microbiology, biochemistry, and metabolism, my lab will identify the microbial species that regulate the growth of mouse offspring and assess how they influence nutrient absorption and metabolism. Because my previous studies have shown that mice raised without maternal antibodies show excessive immune activation in the gut, we will examine the long-term consequences of these elevated immune responses on metabolism and growth. Our findings could help treat infants experiencing a failure to thrive and ensure that these children reach their developmental potential.