The Human Milk Science Institute and Biobank is a non-profit organization that’s mission is to foster and advance research through the sharing of biological samples, data, and services.

Areas of Science

Human milk is not only the perfect nutrition for human babies, it is an amazing dynamic, bioactive, species-specific tissue. Human milk samples can help inform many fields of scientific research. These fields may include:

  • Lactation
  • Human milk banking
  • Genetics
  • Neonatology
  • Pediatrics
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Wound healing
  • Oncology


Your participation will contribute to medical research, which will ultimately help the medically vulnerable. You will not receive any compensation for your participation.

What a sample of milk will not do

We are fierce supporters of breastfeeding and our organization believes that human milk is essential for the optimal health of little humans. As part of the materials transfer agreement, researchers are required to sign a statement that states that their research is not involved with creating a substitute for human milk. We also ask that researchers disclose all of their funding sources. Each request for samples must be reviewed and approved by the Human Milk Science Institute and Biobank board of directors which includes researchers, clinicians, and experts in lactation.

Financial information

The Human Milk Science Institute and Biobank is a non-profit organization. There are significant costs associated the collection, storage, and distribution of samples. Samples are purchased by researchers.

There are no costs associated with donating samples to the Biobank.

The startup funding for the Biobank was generously donated by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation. 

What information and samples are needed?

All data collected will be de-identified, meaning that researchers who use the samples will be given no information that could possibly link the sample that you provide to you or your baby. All Biobank donors will be asked to provide the following:

  • Signed consent
  • A research questionnaire completed
  • A fresh milk sample obtained from one pumping session. This sample can be pumped on-site at our facility in Pittsburgh, or at your home and delivered to our facility within one hour.

Your milk will be processed (centrifuged and treated with a freezing solution) on-site immediately after pumping.

Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank

HMSIB partners with Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides neonatal intensive care units and medically fragile outpatients in PA, WV, NJ, and MD with tested and pasteurized human milk from screened volunteer donors. Learn more about the milk bank.

How do I participate or ask questions?

If you wish to donate milk samples for research to the Human Milk Science Institute and Biobank, please fill out the following form.