US Government Launches Microbiome Research Initiative

US Government Launches Microbiome Research Initiative

On Friday, the White House announced it would be funding a new public-private microbiome research fund, aimed at supporting the development of new therapies promoting healthy bacterial communities. The National Microbiome Initiative (NMI), will be overseen by the Science and Technology Policy group, along with other federal agencies and private companies.

The goal of the initiative is to “foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems.” The NMI will be launched with over $121 million in funding for its first year of microbiome studies in human health and agriculture.

Microbiomes are composed of a variety of microorganisms which live in the body, the soil, the oceans, and even the atmosphere. They play a vital role in maintaining the health of humans, animals and the environment.

Researchers have been increasingly identifying links between the microbiome and chronic diseases, including diabetes, asthma and obesity. A better understanding of these microbial communities could lead to the development of new microbiome-targeted medicines.

“The NMI aims to advance understanding of microbiome behavior and enable protection and restoration of healthy microbiome function,” said a statement released by the White House. “In a year-long fact-finding process, scientists from Federal agencies, academia, and the private sector converged on three recommended areas of focus for microbiome science, which are now the goals of the NMI.”

The current goals of the project include developing platform technologies, supporting interdisciplinary research and expanding the workforce of the microbiome project. The Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation are all chipping in to support the initiative.