The White House’s National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) Announcement is very exciting: the science is cutting edge, the public is engaged, and the funding dollars are large ($121 M from the federal government + $400 M from external stakeholders). While the NMI’s goals of supporting interdisciplinary research, developing platform technologies and expanding the microbiome workforce apply the standard funding and capacity building formula to an area of research close to our hearts, what has the members of DNA Genotek’s Microbiome Team most jazzed is where this Initiative deviates from the norm. The announcement contains a lot of very exciting sounding microbiome research, and I highly recommend you read about them all, but here are 5 reasons why I think the NMI is so cool:
- It involved a call to action for “Microbiome-Science Champions”, and the champions responded in a big way.
- While there is a lot of very exciting human microbiome research, the Initiative is not just focused on humans. From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supporting research into soil microbiome and crop failure in sub-Saharan Africa and the Simons Foundation pledging millions to study ocean and forest microbiomes, to NASA’s study of space microbes, the NMI shines the spotlight on the study of microbes in a broad range of ecosystems.
- Stakeholders from different backgrounds, industry sectors and research interests have teamed up to develop new technologies and tools to answer big questions. From advancing single-cell genomics and developing in situ imaging techniques to the Minnesota Microbiome Data Engine, the commitments described in the initiative will help to provide the tools to drive microbiome research forward at an ever increasing pace.
- The focus on supporting new microbiome research centres, like Brigham & Women’s Hospital’s Microbiota-Gut-Brain Center of Excellence, and the creation of new training programs like the Michigan Microbiome Project, will produce passionate, well trained and innovative microbiome researchers.
- The list of stakeholders included in this initiative read as a watch list for the future of microbiome research. It will be a very interesting few years as we watch the results of this initiative unfold.
So what do you think? Anything in particular in the announcement that got your attention?