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Sequencing the Human Microbiome

Initiative Rationale

Adults harbor ten times more microbial cells than they have human cells. Examination of how these microbes impact human health through their association with the body, for example by influencing metabolism, disease susceptibility and drug response is key for improving human health.

Through the Comparative Genome Evolution (CGE) program, NHGRI approved a limited project - Sequencing of Cultivable Microbes from Human Gut PDF file - to obtain reference genome sequence data from up to 300 cultured bacteria and archea sampled from the human digestive tract and urogenital tract in September 2005. The object is three-fold: to start to generate reference data for future large-scale metagenomics studies; to understand the diversity of bacterial pangenomes, and to start to address the technical and bioinformatic challenges that human metagenomics research will encounter.

A second white paper, Sequencing of Cultivable Microbes from Human Gut and Vagina PDF file, to expand the reference set of microbial genomes was approved in May 2007.

A white paper, Pilot metagenomic sequencing of human intestinal microbiome PDF file, to begin metagenomic sequencing was approved in March 2008.

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Active Sequencing Projects

  • For more information on the progress of all sequencing projects, including the rest of the CGE projects, please see Approved Sequencing Targets.

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Program Contacts

Susan Garges, Ph.D.
Program Director
E-mail: sgarges@mail.nih.gov

Adam Felsenfeld, Ph.D.
Program Director
E-mail: felsenfa@mail.nih.gov

Lu Wang, Ph.D.
Program Director
E-mail: wanglu@mail.nih.gov

Jane Peterson, Ph.D.
Associate Director, DER
E-mail: petersoj@mail.nih.gov

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Last Reviewed: October 19, 2011