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NIH expands Human Microbiome Project; funds sequencing centers and disease projects
Date:6/23/2009

The Human Microbiome Project has awarded more than $42 million to expand its exploration of how the trillions of microscopic organisms that live in or on our bodies affect our health, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today.

The human microbiome is all the microorganisms that reside in or on the human body, as well as all their DNA, or genomes. Launched in 2007 as part of the NIH Common Fund's Roadmap for Medical Research, the Human Microbiome Project is a $140 million, five-year effort that will produce a resource for researchers who are seeking to use information about the microbiome to improve human health.

"This effort will accelerate our understanding of how our bodies and microorganisms interact to influence health and disease," said Acting NIH Director Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D. "Examining the differences between the microbiomes of healthy patients and those of patients suffering from a disease promises to change how we diagnose, treat and, ultimately, prevent many health conditions."

In the new round of funding, the Human Microbiome Project will support the work of the large-scale DNA sequencing centers that participated in the initial phase of the project. These centers will work together to sequence at least 400 microbial genomes. Another approximately 500 microbial genomes are already completed or in sequencing pipelines and supported by individual NIH institutes and internationally funded projects. These data will then be used to characterize the microbial communities found in samples taken from healthy human volunteers. These samples are currently being collected by the Human Microbiome Project from five areas of the body: the digestive tract, the mouth, the skin, the nose and the vagina.

The Human Microbiome Project's large-scale sequencing centers, their principal investigators and approximate funding levels over four years are:

Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor Colle
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Contact: Geoffrey Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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