On May 13, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced a collaborative effort to build a new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) to support the study of microbiomes (communities of microorganisms) across different ecosystems. The NMI will launch with a combined Federal agency investment of more than $121 million in FY 2016 and 2017, including $20 million from the NIH to study multi-ecosystem comparison studies and investigation into design of new tools to explore and understand microbiomes. In terms of human health, dysfunctional microbiomes are associated with chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma.
The NMI’s goals are to:
- Support interdisciplinary research
- Develop platform technologies that will enable knowledge sharing
- Expand the microbiome workforce.
Since a call to action went out in January 2016, more than 100 external institutions have announced new efforts to support microbiome science including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which pledged $100 million over four years to study agricultural microbiomes.