The Host Microbiome Initiative (HMI) of the University of Michigan Medical School Fast Forward Strategic Research Initiative was established to make advanced microbial research available to the medical school community at large. The progress of the HMI has resulted in the expansion and solidification of infrastructure needed for cutting-edge research related to the interactions between microbes and the mammalian host. As the HMI moves forward it is important to not only support investigators who are currently in this area but to lower the activation energy required for individual researchers who wish to explore how a microbial component could augment their current research programs. Toward this end, the HMI initiated a “kickstarter”-type program to assist investigators explore the role of the microbiome in their current research area of interest. The Microbiome Explorer Program (MEP) provides experimental design assistance and technical/analytic support for preliminary investigations.
Investigators who are interested in incorporating microbiome studies into their research should contact either Vincent Young, or the HMI program manager: Michael Dority. Using a venture capital model, investigators will be partnered with HMI experts who are involved in the HMI. Dr. Young will work with investigators to design potential projects that utilize HMI resources and apply them to their own ongoing research programs. Potential projects will be reviewed by the HMI Local Executive Committee members: Kathryn Eaton, Peter Higgins, Yvonne Huang, John Lipuma, , Harry Mobley, Gabriel Nuñez, Mary O’Riordan, Randy Seeley, Patrick Schloss, Thomas Schmidt, and Vincent Young.
The necessary expenses for microbiome services (including study design, nucleic acid isolation, data generation and data interpretation) will be borne by the HMI through a set allocation to the MEP. This is not a “pilot project” program as no funds will be available to conduct the experiments themselves or collect new specimens. It is envisioned that the MEP will allow investigators to add microbiome aspects to their ongoing research projects. It is hoped that this partnership will lead to publications and ultimately external funding that leverages the resources made available at UMMS through the Host Microbiome Initiative.
The HMI is dedicated to serving as a springboard for innovative microbiome projects and support research that builds a comprehensive microbial systems understanding of microbiome/host interaction.