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NIH Awards $42M to Expand Human Microbiome Project

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The National Institutes of Health today announced that it has awarded $42 million to "expand the scope" of eight different projects involved in the Human Microbiome Project.

The Human Microbiome Project is a five-year, $157 million project launched in 2008 as part of NIH's Common Funds Roadmap for Medical Research, and is designed to link changes in the human microbiome to health and disease.

In 2009, year-long pilot projects were conducted to sample volunteers with different diseases at seven different body sites thought to be associated with the microbiome. Those 15 projects were then evaluated based on their progress and ability to demonstrate a relationship between the body site microbiome and a disease. The seven body sites studied were the digestive tract, the mouth, the skin, the nose, the vagina, the blood, and the male urethra

"Preliminary evidence from several of the project's pilot demonstration disease projects suggests that a significant relationship exists between changes in the human microbiome and human health and disease," Anthony Fauci, directof of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and co-chair of the Human Microbiome Project's Implementation Group, said in a statement. "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."

The eight awards include $6.9 million to Gregory Buck at Virginia Commonwealth University; $4.2 million to J. Dennis Fortenberry at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis; $5.2 million to Zhiheng Pei at NYU School of Medicine; $3.1 million to Julie Segre at the National Human Genome Research Institute; $5.2 million to Phillip Tarr at Washington University School of Medicine; $3.4 million to James Versalovic at Baylor College of Medicine; $1.1 million to Gary Wu at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; and $8.2 million to Vincent Young at the University of Michigan.

Additionally, the NIH awarded nearly $5.5 million to researchers to develop new tools and technology related to the culturing of microorganisms.

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