The Genetic Link

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Article by: Shauna White

Considering adding microbiome to your research? Thoughts from Dr. Dan Knights


Knights_wetlab_headshot_crop_mediumUPDATE: On May 12, 2020, CoreBiome rebranded as Diversigen Inc.

We recently introduced readers of The Microbiome Snapshot to our sister company, CoreBiome, a privately-held, Minnesota-based microbiome analysis company that accelerates discovery for customers in the pharmaceutical, agricultural, environmental and research communities. We are continuing this story via a podcast with CoreBiome co-founder, Dr. Dan Knights. In this new podcast, Dr. Knights speaks to us about why the microbiome is so different from the human genome, what answers microbiome research can provide for wellness and disease that we can’t find elsewhere, and what advice he would give an epidemiologist who is looking to add a microbiome component to their project.

The full podcast is available here and selected highlights are below:

1. Why is the study of the microbiome experiencing so much growth?

“The microbiome is opening up new avenues for drug development and for diagnostics in human medicine. It’s turning a lot of heads in the medical field because it has been implicated in a wide range of chronic human diseases. So everybody is very interested in harnessing the power of the microbiome to treat or prevent those diseases.”

2. What answers can the human microbiome provide regarding wellness and disease that we can’t find elsewhere?

“You really can’t possibly understand human health in totality without having a deep understanding of the microbiome. It’s just a part of the complex ecosystem of the human body.”

3. What advice would you give an epidemiological researcher who is looking to add a microbiome component to their program?

“You should be collecting samples from as many subjects as possible and at multiple time points. Once you’ve got them, if you’ve collected them properly and they’re stabilized, you can perform sequencing later.”

4. What advice would you give to a pharmaceutical company planning to generate microbiome data in support of a drug discovery project or clinical trial?

“It’s important to generate a lot of data and collect a lot of samples. The microbiome is not like the human genome which is essentially static. It’s something that’s changing every day in response to what we eat and the medicine we take and other factors, so you can’t measure the microbiome at just one time point and get the full picture.”

5. Should those studying the microbiome start considering a multiomics approach to their work?

“As much as possible, it’s worth collecting multiple types of data because they will tell you different things about the system. There’s always some variability in the data - that can be variability between people or it can be variability over time and the way to overcome that is by collecting more samples, from more subjects, at more time points. And more data means more power.”

For more information on how to add microbiome sample collection to your current project or how Dr. Knights and the team at CoreBiome can help you with affordable, high quality shotgun sequencing, please email us at

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