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NIH Awards $22M for Human Microbiome Project's Second Phase

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Three research projects will use $22.1 million in National Institutes of Health funding to fuel new studies under the Human Microbiome Project program to investigate how microbiome changes in the body may influence the human hosts' physiologies, NIH said today.

The studies, which will use various omics technologies, will be conducted by The Broad Institute and Harvard School of Public Health; Stanford University and Washington University; and Virginia Commonwealth University, and will each receive $2.5 million to fund the first year of projects that will last three years.

These efforts mark the launch of the second phase of the HMP, which NIH undertook in 2007and which to date has focused on the composition and genetic potential of microbes found in specific regions of the human body. The three research teams involved in the second phase of the HMP will study the biochemical activities happening in theses microbial communities.

In a joint project, investigators at Stanford and Washington University plan to use genomic, proteomic, and transcriptomic approaches to study how certain microorganisms in the nose and gut may trigger the development of diseases such as diabetes. These researchers will correlate the molecular changes in the microbiome with host glucose levels and the onset of diabetes, and they plan to deposit their data and analyses into a public repository that will be a resource to the research community.

The Broad Institute and Harvard School of Public Health, in another joint effort, plan to assess populations and physiological activities of gut microbes that may be involved in inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. They plan to generate a range of omics data and create an IBD multi-omic database, which will be an integrated resource that will use existing, well-phenotyped cohorts to provide longitudinal profiling of the gut microbiome.

Both of these joint research projects will be overseen by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The researchers at VCU plan to study the bacteria that live in the female urogenital tract with the aim of understanding how they are involved in health and disease in pregnant women and their babies. Their efforts will focus on microbes that may be involved in preterm birth, with the hope that a better understanding of these organisms will lead to better prenatal and postnatal care and lower preterm birth and infant morbidity and mortality.

This project will be managed by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.