FFHI Welcomes Melissa Breck as Human Studies Coordinator


The Foods for Health Institute is excited to welcome a valuable new member to the FFHI team. Melissa Breck recently began her full-time role as Human Studies Coordinator, although she has been working with the FFHI for nearly three years as a student researcher. 

Under the direction of Associate Director of Human Studies Research Dr. Jennifer Smilowitz, Melissa will oversee the execution of ongoing and new clinical trials that are run through the Foods for Health Institute. She is currently managing the FFHI Lactation Study, a large, prospective, observational trial designed to investigate how components in human milk change over the course of lactation and influence the growth of infants’ healthy gut bacteria. Melissa has also initiated the FFHI Bovine Milk Oligosaccharides (BMO) Project designed to determine how consumption of milk sugars influence the growth of healthy gut bacteria in healthy adults.

Melissa explains that as the Human Studies Coordinator, her job duties include overseeing the entire IRB process from modifying those documents, to drafting consent forms; writing protocols for individual studies and laboratory practices; overseeing recruitment, and conducting various screening protocols and clinical assessments for potential and enrolled subjects. She notes that she “does a little bit of everything” as it relates to human studies trials.

Importantly, she is also responsible for organizing the logistics of each study and delegating research and clinical activities to the many undergraduate interns who are part of the Foods for Health Institute Undergraduate Mentorship Program. In this respect there is no better person for the job than Melissa, who went through the Mentorship Program while she was an undergraduate student.

During her time as an undergraduate intern, Melissa was hired to assume greater responsibility as a part-time student employee. Once Melissa graduated with a B.S. in Nutrition, she excitedly applied for the permanent position as the Human Studies Coordinator. Melissa turned down a job offer with the UC Davis Medical Center to advance her career with the Foods for Health Institute.

Melissa says that she expects her new role to be “really busy, but it will be fun.” She will initiate new studies while simultaneously managing several ongoing studies, which is challenging work. But Melissa is really excited to be a part of it. She plans to apply for nursing school and complete a Nurse Practitioner Program, but at the moment, she is following her interests in clinical research and nutrition. Melissa is happy to work in a professional capacity in a field that she is passionate about.

If you are interested in being a part of our human studies, contact Melissa Breck at [email protected] to get involved.