Scientists Urge National Initiative on Microbiomes
Scores of leading scientists on Wednesday urged the creation of a major initiative to better understand the microbial communities critical to both human health and every ecosystem.
In two papers published simultaneously in the journals Science and Nature, the scientists called for a government-led effort akin to the Brain Initiative, a monumental multiyear project intended to develop new technologies to understand the human brain.
“This is the beginning of the shot to the moon,” said Jeffery F. Miller, the director of the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a co-author of the Science paper. “There is so much to learn, and so many benefits of learning it.”
The White House is already considering increasing its support of research into the workings of these microbial communities, called microbiomes. The new papers “are very thoughtful and have a lot to tell us,” said Jo Handelsman, the associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and herself a microbiologist.