The has announced the launch of the National Microbiome Initiative, a public-private effort to foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems.
Philanthropic support for the initiative includes $100 million over four years from the to investigate and develop tools for the study of human and agricultural biomes; $12 million from the to enable technology developers at the Center for Microbiome Innovation to connect with end users; $35 million from the , , and to provide new research experiences for undergraduate students; $31 million over four years from the in support of fundamental ocean-microbiome research; and $10 million over five years from to address microbiome research related to Type 1 diabetes.
Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms that live on or in people, plants, soil, oceans, and the atmosphere and help maintain the healthy function of these ecosystems, influencing human health, climate change, food security, and other factors. Dysfunctional microbiomes are associated with a range of issues, including chronic diseases in humans such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma; local ecological disruptions like the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and reductions in agricultural productivity.
NMI will build on existing federal investments in microbiome research and will launch with proposed investments of more than $121 million in fiscal year 2016-17 for cross-ecosystem microbiome studies, including $10 million from the Department of Energy, $12.5 million from NASA, $20 million from the National Institutes of Health, and $16 million from the National Science Foundation.
"We wouldn't be here without these bacteria," Jo Handelsman, associate director of OSTP, told USA Today. "Our health, our behavior and even our longevity are all affected by these bacteria."