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Family-Inspired Research

Father of Four Finds Passion in Lab’s Infant Immunology Research

Idaho WWAMI student Jordan Richter is a father of four, which is what he said inspired him to join Fehrenkamp’s lab.

Bethaney Fehrenkamp, Clinical Assistant Professor at Idaho WWAMI, runs the immunology lab, focusing specifically on preventative healthcare for mothers and babies.

“The research that she does, focusing on mothers and babies — my wife, at the time, was pregnant about to have our fourth child,” Richter said. “The research that we’ve been doing looking into the developing immune systems of babies really hit home for me.”

If we can set little kiddos up with the best healthcare from birth on, that really is prevention. Bethaney Fehrenkamp, Clinical Assistant Professor at Idaho WWAMI

Fehrenkamp’s lab gives students the opportunity to join her in that research, tailoring it to fit their own passions in the immunology world. Richter has been working with Fehrenkamp’s lab to research how breast milk feeding affects the immune system development of infants.

Jordan Richter stands in front of screen.
Jordan Richter on why he chose to participate in Fehrenkamp’s lab.

“If we can set little kiddos up with the best healthcare from birth on, that really is prevention,” Fehrenkamp said. “I’m passionate about that.”

Richter’s contributions in the lab have included assisting in the measurement of the expression of specific genes, Fehrenkamp said. This data would let the team compare gene expression patterns between different feeding methods during the early stages of development.

Ultimately, this research will shed light on the potential impacts of breast milk feeding on immune development and the subsequent health outcomes.

“I’ve been glad to be able to be part of that,” Richter said. “I have enjoyed seeing the benefits that breastfeeding has on babies and helping them to be healthier at the beginning of their lives so they can go on to be healthy adults. This knowledge and information will not only help us now but can help throughout generations.”

In January, Richter will present the findings of the research project at the Western Medical Research Conference in Carmel, California.

“I’m grateful to Fehrenkamp’s mentorship with the lab, and helping me to learn all that I have,” Richter said. “I look forward to the time, after I’m a physician, I can come back to Idaho and hopefully continue similar research and do things to continue to help the health here in Idaho and benefit not only my family and their children, but everyone else here as well.”

A lab group stands in a lab.
Fehrenkamp and the participants in her lab.

Bethaney Fehrenkamp, Ph.D

Clinical Assistant Professor of Immunology

Bethaney Fehrenkamp

Article by Emma Zado, Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program.

Photography by After Image Visual Services.

Published in December 2023.

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