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White House Launches Microbiome Initiative, Includes the Ocean!

Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology in collaboration with other Federal agencies and private companies announced a new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) aiming to accelerate studies on microbiome research including the ocean microbiome. Their aims are summarized in three points:

  • Support interdisciplinary research
  • Develop platform tecnologies
  • Expanding the microbiome workforce

This essentially means one of the main goals is to integrate and ramp up funding for microbiome research across different fields (ocean, terrestrial, gut, etc.). They released a fact sheet which can be downloaded here, but I’ve pulled out and summarized anything potentially ocean related:

  • NASA proposes $12.5 million for research across Earth’s ecosystems and in space.
  • NSF Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) proposes $16 million in 2017 for microbiome research that spans the spectrum of ecosystems, species, and biological scales.
  • Smithsonian Institution proposes $300 thousand in 2017 on how microbes shape ecosystem functions, services, and restoration across habitats.
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will provide $31 million over the next 4 years for fundamental ocean microbiome research. This includes funding for something I’m particularly excited about, UniEuk, which seeks to create a universal taxonomic framekwork for eukaryotic microbes.
  • Simons Foundation Life Sciences Division will invest $6.5 in ocean and forest microbiome research.
  • Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is investing $1 million for research to improve single-cell genomics technology.

Lastly here at UNC Chapel Hill, a $4.9 million dollar investment is being made to establish an interdisciplinary hub for microbiome research with seven new faculty and a number of new staff positions. This includes $790,000 in a new computer cluster (YAY!) and $50,000 to support marine microbiome research in the Galapagos Islands. A press release from the university can be found here.

The White House released video so you can also watch the launch event which had a panel that included UNC Marine Sciences alumnus, Dr. Samantha Joye:

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