The human microbiome project

We thought the days of breakthrough discoveries in biology were gone.

But look where we are now — we are discovering a whole new world which is already changing our perception of ourselves.

Every one of us is a superorganism
Every one of us is a superorganism!

Every one of us is a "superorganism".

The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) is one of the largest biological projects of all time. In the field of microbiology, the microbiome has become the most fascinating topic since Louis Pasteur, the founder of Microbiology. The goal of the HMP is the cataloguing of all microorganisms that live in and on us and their influence on health and disease.

The HMP was launched in 2008 by the National Institute of Health (NIH) as a conceptual extension to the Human Genome Project (HGP). One of the surprises of the HGP was the discovery that the human genome contains only 20,000 – 25,000 genes, about a fifth the number researchers had expected to find. Searching for the missing genetic pieces led them to the human microbiome.

It is an interdisciplinary effort involving the following institutions:

Virginia Commonwealth University, the Broad Institute, Stanford University, and the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, the Baylor College of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, and the J. Craig Venter Institute, as well as a Data Coordination Center (DCC).

The first phase HMP (HMP1) started with a budget of $150 million for the first 5 years. The analysis was focused on the five main body sites: skin, nose, mouth, gut and vagina of healthy human subjects. In 2013, the HMP1 ended with over 14 terabytes of data from 300 individuals.

The second phase HMP is called integrative HMP (iHMP) and was established in 2014. It creates datasets of biological properties from both the microbiome and the host, focusing on three different topics:

Pregnancy & Preterm Birth

Onset of Inflammatory Bowel
Disease (IBD)

Onset of Type 2 Diabetes

All the data which emerged from the HMP is accessible to the public.

Curious? Follow this link:

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