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Human Microbiome Project

The advent of next-generation sequencing technology helped members of the Human Microbiome Project realize the goal of developing a resource representing microbial communities associated with healthy humans, according to HMP consortium member Bruce Birren.

Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will lead an effort funded by NIAID to study bacterial metagenomics involved in women's genital tract infections.

Grants awarded to GE Global Research and Stanford University may help address many of the inherent technical difficulties of isolating, amplifying, and sequencing genetic material from microorganisms that colonize various parts of the human body.

The funding is being divvied among eight expanded disease demonstration projects and six technology development projects.

"We are providing additional support to those studies that hold the most promise for improving our understanding of how human health and disease are influenced by the human microbiome," co-chair of the Human Microbiome Project's Implementation Group, Anthony Fauci, said in a statement.

At the American Society for Microbiology meeting, Washington University's George Weinstock outlined progress being made on the Human Microbiome Project.

Investigators from four research centers participating in the Human Microbiome Jumpstart Reference Strains Consortium have sequenced and characterized nearly 200 microbial reference strains as part of an ongoing effort to bolster metagenomic studies of microbes in and on the human body.

A Translational Genomics Research Institute and Johns Hopkins University-led research team reported today that they have found circumcision-related changes in the penis microbiome that may confer some degree of protection against HIV risk.

Just over a year after it secured a five-year NIH grant, the data-analysis and -coordination center for the Human Microbiome Project has many of the pieces in place to serve as the central repository for all HMP data, though some aspects of the complex project remain "in flux."

The grants will support new informatics technologies to analyze and mine sequencing data from the Human Microbiome Project.

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Politico notes that the Biden Administration has not yet nominated a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner. 

Anthony Fauci also informed the World Health Organization executive board that the US would be joining the COVAX initiative, according to CNBC.

A new preprint suggests some SARS-CoV-2 variants could affect the effectiveness of current vaccines, the Associated Press reports.

In Nature this week: Australian lungfish provides details on the movement of vertebrate life from water to land, and more.