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Human Microbiome Project awards funds for technology development, data analysis and ethical research
Date:10/7/2008

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced the first awards for its Human Microbiome Project, which will lay a foundation for efforts to explore how complex communities of microbes interact with the human body to influence health and disease. The funding, estimated to be up to approximately $21.2 million, will support the development of innovative technologies and computational tools, coordination of data analysis and an examination of some of the ethical, legal and social implications of human microbiome research.

The human microbiome consists of all of the DNA, or genomes, of all the microorganisms present in or on the human body. Launched in 2007 as part of the NIH's Roadmap for Medical Research, the Human Microbiome Project is a five-year effort that will produce a resource for researchers who are seeking to use information about the microbiome to improve human health.

"Today marks the beginning of efforts by researchers to put in place the framework for understanding how microorganisms interact with our bodies to affect health and disease," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "Developing new and more cost-effective technologies will be essential to applying knowledge about the human microbiome to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of conditions."

Initially, researchers plan to sequence 600 microbial genomes, completing a collection that will total some 1,000 microbial genomes. The remaining microbial genomes are being contributed to the collection by individual NIH institutes and internationally funded projects. Those data will then be used to characterize the microbial communities present in samples taken from healthy human volunteers. The samples will be collected from five areas of the body: the digestive tract, the mouth, the skin, the nose and the vagina.

After researchers generate profiles of microbial communities in healthy people, they will conduct demonstration proj
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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