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NIH Offering $28M Over Four Years for Human Microbiome 'Demonstration' Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The National Institutes of Health has set aside $28 million over four years to fund “demonstration projects” that will use metagenomics methods to study the relationship of changes in the human microbiome to human health and disease. 
In a request for applications issued yesterday, the NIH said that it plans to fund up to ten early-phase and five later-phase studies of the human microbiome under the program, which is part of the NIH Roadmap Initiative’s Human Microbiome Project.
The NIH will allot $4 million in total costs for fiscal year 2009 for early-phase projects and $24.3 million for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 for scaled-up projects. The expected amount of each early-stage award is between $300,000 and $700,000, while the amount for later-phase awards is between $1 million and $4 million.  
Applicants should address a number of goals, NIH said, including identifying “an important biological system” that could “demonstrate the relationship between the human microbiome and health or disease;” the use of high-throughput, cost-effective technologies “to produce public data that can be used to study the microbiome in selected body regions under specified conditions;” and the design or adaptation of analytical tools “that will allow conclusions to be drawn about the relationship of the human microbiota to health and disease.” 
Applications for the RFA are due May 22, 2008. The anticipated start date of the pilot phase is April 2009.