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NIH Offering $2.5M for Microbe-Host Biology Studies

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of General Medical Sciences plans to provide $2.5 million for grants funding research that seeks to understand the basic principles and mechanisms that govern the dynamics of microbe and host relationships.

NIGMS expects to use the funding to support five or six grants with up to $250,000 per year over four years.

The goal of these studies is to increase understanding of the ecology of the host-associated microbial community by using genetics, physiology, and ecological research.

Because microbes and microbial communities have important influences on human disease, "personalized medicine likely will require an understanding of the microbial communities associated with the individual, in addition to an individual's genome sequence," the National Institutes of Health explained in a request for applications.

Some types of personalized medicine are currently not being fully exploited because the interactions and processes between microbes and their hosts are not fully known, it said. The NIH Roadmap Human Microbiome Project was designed to begin to address a lack of knowledge about the microbial community within humans, but there still is a need for more information about the basic physiological and ecological principles that govern the formation and persistence of host-associated microbial communities.

The funding will support research that focuses on mixed microbe communities and their internal dynamics including bioinformatics; development of model systems that can be studied using high-resolution morphological, genetic, and physiological analysis; studies of community genetic interactions; studies of gene flows in host-microbe communities, research into microbial community dynamics; and development of new technologies for use in studying complex assemblages such as biofilms.