NIH is awarding $42 million to advance the Human Microbiome Project. As part of a five-year, $140 million effort that began in 2007, this round of financing will support three large-scale DNA sequencing centers that participated in the initial phase of the project over the next four years. Additionally, money will be given to 14 new institutes on a one-year basis to conduct disease-specific research.
The sequencing centers will work together on at least 400 microbial genomes. Another approximately 500 microbial genomes are already completed or in sequencing pipelines and supported by individual NIH institutes and internationally funded projects. The data will then be used to characterize the microbial communities found in samples taken from healthy human volunteers. These samples are currently being collected by the Human Microbiome Project from five areas of the body: digestive tract, mouth, skin, nose, and vagina. Approximate funding levels are: $3.7 million to the Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, $16.1 million to Washington University Genome Sequencing Center, and $8.8 million to The J. Craig Venter Institute.
The 14 new pilot demonstration projects will involve researchers sampling the microbiomes of healthy volunteers and volunteers with specific diseases. Each pilot demonstration project will be reviewed after one year to evaluate its progress toward milestones as well as its ability to demonstrate a definable relationship between a body site microbiome and disease.
These studies will use samples collected from seven areas of the body: the digestive tract, the mouth, the skin, the nose, the vagina, the blood and the male urethra. Diseases to be covered include acne, psoriasis, other inflammatory skin diseases, bacterial vaginosis, STDs, obesity, Crohn’s, IBS, and immunodeficiency syndromes.
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