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Research Community

Trainee Spotlight: Mahsa Babaei, PhD

A Postdoctoral Fellow, Mahsa Babaei, PhD is investigating how infants’ diets predict their body composition.

How do early-life factors influence health outcomes—especially in areas such as obesity and brain development? That is the question Dr. Babaei wants to answer.

“My goal is to better understand how we can optimize the health and well-being of both infants and mothers during the crucial early developmental stage,” she explains. “I want to leverage my skills and knowledge to make a meaningful impact.”

Dr. Babaei works in the lab of Michael Goran, PhD, on two projects. The first aims to predict infants’ body composition by assessing the quality of their diets. To do this, she is using advanced machine learning techniques, as well as data from two studies at CHLA—Mother’s Milk and MAMITA—which follow breastfeeding moms in Southern California.

In the second project, which also uses data from the Mother’s Milk study, she is examining whether a mother’s pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) is associated with a child’s neurodevelopment at 24 months of age.

Her interest in studying healthy development grew out of her own lifelong passion for athletics. Growing up in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Babaei played numerous sports, and today, she continues to love the active life—including skiing, volleyball, rollerblading, wakeboarding and tennis. “I’m an avid sports enthusiast,” she says. “It provides me with a well-rounded balance in life.”