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Microbiome Science Discussion Group

Your body is mostly microbes


The human microbiome is made up of more than 100 trillion bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa that live inside and on our bodies. In fact, we have 10 times more microbial cells in our body than human cells. The bacteria in our microbiomes play important roles in everyday biological processes and are essential to human health—they help regulate the immune system, protect against disease-causing microbes, produce essential vitamins, and extract energy from food.

Your changing microbiome

As scientists learn more about this collection of microbes living in association with the human body, it has become clear that our microbial communities are personal to each of us, and shift throughout life due to changes in diet, exercise, medications such as antibiotics, illness, and other environmental factors.

The microbiome and disease

An ever-growing number of studies have demonstrated that changes in the composition of our microbiomes correlate with numerous disease states, raising the exciting possibility that manipulation of these microbial communities could be used to treat disease—from obesity, diabetes, cancer, psychiatric disorders, and infectious diseases—as well as support immune system and gastroenterological function.

Our portfolio of events and publications in Microbiome Science are designed to surface new discoveries and tackle current challenges including, but not limited to:

  • The development of reference sets of microbial genome sequences
  • Understanding the complexity of the microbial community at various body sites
  • Determining the relationship between human health, disease, and changes in the microbiome
  • New tools and technologies for microbiome sample collection and computational analyses
  • The ethical, legal, and social implications of studying and modifying the human microbiome

Did you know that if you transplant bacteria from the gut of a stressed and anxious mouse to a calm mouse, the calm mouse becomes stressed and anxious? And vice-versa! How does the microbial content of our gut impact our state of mind? Microbiome research seeks to answer this and other fascinating questions about the microbial world within us.


Sonya Dougal, PhD


Steering Committee Members

The Microbiome Science Discussion Group Steering Committee, composed of multi-sector and multi-institutional scientists from the Academy’s network, provides thought leadership on key issues of interest to the microbial science community, helping to inform and shape our program portfolio.
David Artis, PhD
Weill Cornell Medicine
Martin Blaser, MD
New York University
John Hambor, PhD
Boehringer Ingelheim
Dan Littman, MD, PhD
New York University
Eric G. Pamer, MD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Paul Planet, MD, PhD
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Nilufer Seth, PhD

Founding Sponsor