Melanie Rae Simpson
Background and activities
I am a postdoctor at the Department of Public Health and Nursing. My main research activities revolve around investigating and understanding primary prevention strategies for allergy-related diseases, such as eczema (atopic dermatitis), asthma and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (hay fever). I am also involved research into the immunological components of breast milk, and how these contribute to the development of the microbiota, gastrointestinal system and immune system of newborn infants.
I teach an introductory course in epidemiology (MH3002) for masters students and I am also employed at the Clinical Research Unit Central Norway (Klinforsk) where I provide statistical advise to researchers and clinicians conducting research into a wide range of topics.
- Bachelor of Medicine 2008 (Newcastle University, Australia)
- Bachelor of Medical Science 2006 (Newcastle University)
- Masters in Medical Statistics, 2015 (Newcastle University)
- PhD i medicine, 2018 (NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
Thesis: Preventing atopic dermatitis with probiotic supplementation - the role of selected breast milk components: The Probiotics in the Prevention of Allergy among Children in Trondheim (ProPACT) study
- Allergy related disease
- Immunological components of breast milk
My current research involves a combination of epidemiological, clinical and translational studies investigating the prevention of allergy related diseases. I primarily work with data from the Prevention of Allergy among Children in Trondheim (PACT) study, and the associated substudies.
Probtiotics in the Prevention of Allergy among Children in Trondheim (ProPACT) Study
My doctoral work was centered around breast milk samples collected during the ProPACT study. This is a randomised, placebo contolled study which investigated the use of probiotic supplementation given to women during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy until 3 months after birth. At 2 years of age, we observed that women born to mothers in the probiotic group had a 40 % reduction in the cumulative incidence of eczema. The biological mechanisms behind this preventive effect are incompletely understood. We are using samples collected during the ProPACT study to investigate these biological mechanisms from different angles.
Through my doctoral work, I studied specific components found in the breast milk samples. The breast milk microbiota, selected cytokines (TGF-ßs and TSLP) and miRNA were investigated and we found that these components were not substantially influenced by maternal probiotic supplementation and did not appear to explain the preventive effect of probiotics. This work was done in collabation with researchers at the Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine (NTNU) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Ås, Norway).
The ProPACT Study is a substudy of the larger population intervention study (PACT) which aimed to reduce childhood allergy related diseases through reducing environmental smoke and damp/mold exposure and increasing fish consumption during pregnancy and early infancy.