Michelle Giglio, Ph.D.
The trillions of microorganisms that make up the human microbiome form a community living in and on nearly every part of the human body. Some are unwanted, causing disease. The vast majority are crucial for survival.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences and the National Institutes of Health have organized a symposium, June 24-26, titled, “Human Microbiome Science: Vision for the Future,” to evaluate the state of the science for the field and explore future challenges. Many of the speakers will address the diverse roles of the human microbiome in disease and human health. One scientist will describe the microbiome’s influence on drug response, while others will focus on its impact on obesity, behavior, heart disease and cancer. Each day will close with an open-floor discussion on pressing issues in the field, led by journalist Ed Yong.
The conference will feature keynote speakers including Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health; Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI); and Jesse Goodman, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Scientist, Food and Drug Administration. The event will take place at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.
The University of Maryland’s Institute for Genome Sciences is the home for major portions of the Human Microbiome Project, a $153 million National Institutes of Health-sponsored program that launched in 2007. The project funds researchers nationwide to sequence the genomes of the microbes in the human body and analyze them in order to learn more about them and how they interact with the human genome. Michelle G. Giglio, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a research scientist at the Institute for Genome Sciences, organized the symposium with the help of funding from the NIH. The Institute for Genome Sciences is the base for the Data Analysis and Coordination Center, an elaborate core database system that stores all of the information collected by the consortium, a group of 200-some researchers from 80 institutions nationwide.
Owen White, Ph.D., professor and associate director of the Institute for Genome Sciences, was chosen by the NHGRI to spearhead the Data Analysis and Coordination Center. The center is a database system that analyzes, organizes and disseminates the genomic information gathered at various sites as part of the Human Microbiome Project. The Data Analysis and Coordination Center makes the information gathered as part of the project available for free to U.S. investigators, making possible the series of papers that were just published. Dr. White will speak at a session at the conference.
Also speaking at the conference is Jacques Ravel, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Associate Director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the School of Medicine. Much of Dr. Ravel’s work is funded by the Human Microbiome Project.