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.
Scientific, academic and artistic work
A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database
- (2019) Statistical approaches in the studies assessing associations between human milk immune composition and allergic diseases: A scoping review. Nutrients. vol. 11 (10).
- (2019) Fish Consumption at One Year of Age Reduces the Risk of Eczema, Asthma and Wheeze at Six Years of Age. Nutrients. vol. 11 (9).
- (2018) Low maternal microbiota sharing across gut, breast milk and vagina, as revealed by 16s rRNA gene and reduced metagenomic sequencing. Genes. vol. 9:231 (5).
- (2017) Diversity of vaginal microbiota increases by the time of labor onset. Scientific Reports. vol. 7 (1).
- (2017) Reduced Th22 cell proportion and prevention of atopic dermatitis in infants following maternal probiotic supplementation. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. vol. 47 (8).
- (2017) Breastfeeding associated microbiota in human milk following supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus acidophilus La-5 and Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis Bb-12. Journal of Dairy Science (JDS). vol. 101 (2).
- (2016) Systems biology: Impressions from a newcomer graduate student in 2016. Advances in Physiology Education. vol. 40 (4).
- (2016) Atopic dermatitis prevention in children following maternal probiotic supplementation does not appear to be mediated by breast milk TSLP or TGF-β. Clinical and Translational Allergy. vol. 6 (27).
- (2015) Does maternal perinatal probiotic supplementation alter the intestinal microbiota of mother and child?. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition - JPGN. vol. 61 (2).
- (2015) Human breast milk miRNA, maternal probiotic supplementation and atopic dermatitis in offspring. PLOS ONE. vol. 10:e0143496 (12).
- (2015) Perinatal probiotic supplementation in the prevention of allergy related disease: 6 year follow up of a randomised controlled trial. BMC Dermatology. vol. 15 (13).
- (2014) The predictive value of allergen skin prick tests and IgE tests at pre-school age: The PACT study. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. vol. 25 (7).
- (2013) The impact of pre- and postnatal exposures on allergy related diseases in childhood: a controlled multicentre intervention study in primary health care. BMC Public Health. vol. 13.