Further signs that microbiome work is getting hot: more $$ from NIH

Just got an email about this NIH program: RFA-RM-12-021: Evaluation of Multi-omic Data in Understanding the Human Microbiomes Role in Health and Disease (U54)

Some key points

  • Up to 3$ million per year
  • 1 or 2 awards
  • U54 Specialized Center
The human microbiome is, well, hot, and there continues to be money available to work on it …

Must read microbiome paper of the month: defined microbioata treatment of Cdiff infections

This is a must read: PLOS Pathogens: Targeted Restoration of the Intestinal Microbiota with a Simple, Defined Bacteriotherapy Resolves Relapsing Clostridium difficile Disease in Mice

This is the paper I referred to in a previous post: Mouse study of fecal transplants to treat Cdiff infection.  This post was about a BBC News story that appeared to have jumped the embargo.  And then the news article disappeared and the scientific article was missing.  Thankfully the paper is now out.

The article has gotten some press that was not retracted.

More on fecal transplants and bacteriotherapy from my blog can be found below:

Overselling the microbiome award of the month: Integrative medical group of Irvine

Wow.  Just discovered this site: Fecal Transplantation | Integrative Medical Group of Irvine.  Not sure how long it has been out there.  But this is one of the more aggressive and perhaps egregious overselling of the power of the human microbiome that I have seen. They are promoting fecal transplants at their clinic as a way to cure a diverse array of ailments from ulcerative colitis to obesity and imply they can be used for cardiovascular health, emotional status, bone health, and more.  My “favorite” part:

As our understanding of the enormous importance of bowel micro-biota (bacteria) grows, the indications for fecal transplant will expand greatly and public acceptance will follow. But there is no reason for you to wait. Dr. Lee, our naturopathic doctor, is one of only a tiny handful of specialists certified in the use of fecal transplant. She can expertly manage your case.

Yes that is right.  We (the royal We of course) are on the verge of showing that the microbiota does EVERYTHING and therefore, if anything ails you, just wash your troubles away with some shit from a relative.  There is no reason to wait.  Come in to our clinic now.

And for the misleading nature of this site, I am giving this Integrative Medical Group of Irvine my coveted “Overselling the microbiome award.”  Previous winners and discussions of this issue are listed below:

Future of the human microbiome project (HMP) at NIH?

Just got this question by email

“Dear Professor Eisen, I wonder if you can shed any light on the question whether the Human Microbiome Project will be renewed or if it is being discontinued at NIH. I happened to thumb through (on a Kindle) the 2013 proposed budget for the NIH Common Fund to find to my astonishment that the HMP — which had been lionized in June and July in issues of Nature and Science and PLoS — has been apparently zeroed out. The Budget narrative states bleakly: “The FY 2013 President’s Budget request of $1.207 million for HMP represents a decrease of $22.531 million, or 94.92 percent less than the FY 2012 level. The estimated decrease in funding reflects the planned FY 2012 conclusion of all but one of the awards. This award had a late start, and therefore will continue into FY 2013. There is a possibility of supporting a second phase of the HMP program, pending an analysis of current needs.” If you go on the HMP website, you will see that all the program RFPs have been archived under the statement “There are no funding opportunities at this time.” (See http://commonfund.nih.gov/hmp/grants.aspx). I am an avid follower of your Tree of life Blog. Thank you for running it. I imagine other readers might also be interested in what is going on with respect to the HMP budget. “

Interesting question.  Here is what I know which is very limited.

  • The NIH Human Microbiome Project was funded as a “Roadmap” initiative.  
    • “The Human Microbiome Project is part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The Roadmap is a series of initiatives designed to pursue major opportunities and gaps in biomedical research that no single NIH institute could tackle alone, but which the agency as a whole can address to make the biggest impact possible on the progress of medical research. Additional information about the NIH Roadmap can be found at http://www.nihroadmap.nih.gov.”
    • It was a five year program, starting in 2007 and ending in 2012. 
  • The full details of the 2013 NIH budget request are here
  • In 2013 testimony by NIH at congress the HMP is discussed
    • “One fascinating area of basic research is the Human Microbiome Project, an initiative supported through the NIH Common Fund. This project is giving us wonderful insights into the sweeping range of bacteria that live on and in each of us, and is expanding our knowledge about the role of these microbial communities in health and disease. Recent scientific evidence suggests that changes in the composition and activity of the human microbiome may contribute to obesity, which may provide us with new ways of addressing this serious threat to our nation’s health.”
I have heard discussions about how NIH might try to do another round of funding for the HMP but I do not know where this stands.  If anyone out there knows anything else — please post.