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Wild Baboons as a Model to Understand Immune Function and Disease Risk During Pregnancy and Lactation

2013 Seed Grant

Summary

Scientific understanding of women’s disease risk and immune function during pregnancy and lactation is surprisingly limited. This is partly because pregnant and lactating women are challenging study subjects; hence human studies are often constrained to small sample sizes, sub-optimal controls, and/or biased metadata. Our project will address these challenges by working in the well-studied Amboseli baboon population, which offers decades of dense, longitudinal sampling on behavior and physiology. We propose two aims to reveal how female reproductive status influences three major indices of immune function and disease risk: wound healing, the incidence of illness, and parasite burdens. Our preliminary results suggest that wound healing is delayed during lactation. The resulting data sets will be among the largest in the world on this topic, for either humans or animals, and the proposed project will place us in a competitive position to receive future funding on perinatal health.

Collaborating institutions

  • University of Notre Dame
 

Principal Investigators

Jeanne Altmann

Jeanne Altmann, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology


Elizabeth Archie, University of Notre Dame