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Forsyth scientists support the Human Microbiome Project

Scientists from The Forsyth Institute are making a significant contribution to the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), which is seeking to identify and sequence the thousands of species of bacteria that inhabit human body surfaces. Forsyth has provided more oral bacteria to the HMP than any other institution. Genome sequences of these bacteria are being determined in collaboration with the four HMP sequencing centers. These sequences will allow the scientific community to analyze the disease-causing potential of oral microorganisms.

Studying human-bacteria interactions could lead to new ways to monitor human health status and to new methods for preventing or treating oral and systemic human diseases. The Forsyth efforts are supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH. The mission of the HMP is to enable comprehensive characterization of the human microbiota and to determine its role in human health and disease.

The Forsyth scientific team includes Dr. Jacques Izard, Dr. Anne Tanner, and Dr. Floyd Dewhirst. According to Dr. Dewhirst, "many of the strains that we have identified, and are making available to the scientific community, are unnamed and previously uncultured species. The availability of these strains will allow scientists worldwide to study them for the first time." "Researchers can now tackle key questions about these bacteria that comprise communities called 'biofilms' and really determine how those bacteria interact with one another and with their human host" said Dr. Jacques Izard.

This work was also supported by other members of the Department of Molecular Genetics at Forsyth including Drs. Tsute Chen and Bruce Paster, and Oxana Baranova, Jessica Blanton, and Jennifer Mathney. A key collaborator was Dr. William Wade, Kings College London, London, UK. The long-term goals of the Forsyth team are to determine the molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, particularly in oral diseases. Understanding host-pathogen interactions is essential for developing successful interventions and preventive treatments.


Contact: Jennifer Kelly
Forsyth Institute

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