American Academy of Microbiology: FAQ - Human Microbiome, January 2014

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In 2011, the American Academy of Microbiology launched a new program of mini-colloquia that generate “FAQ Reports” to provide sound scientific information about topics of public interest in which microbes play important roles.  The goal of these FAQ is to respond quickly when microbiology topics emerge in the news.  You can see some of the AAM’s FAQ’s here. Given the success of the Human Microbiome Project and the significant press microbiome research has received, the Academy convene a mini-colloquium to explain in accessible language the microbial diversity associated with the human body and its implications for human health and development. This month the Academy released the report entitled FAQ: Human Microbiome, can be found here. The mini-colloqium was held on Tuesday July 23, 2013, a day before the Human Microbiome Science: Vision for the Future Meeting held July 24-26 in Bethesda, MD (video of each presentations can be found here). Lita Proctor (Program Officer at NIH/NHGRI and coordinator of the NIH Human Microbiome Project), Peter Turnbaugh (Harvard University) and myself, led the steering committee of the mini-colloquium which also included a panel of expert in the field of human microbiome research, Brett Finlay (The University of British Columbia), Wendy Garrett (Harvard University), Gary Huffnagle (University of Michigan), Curtis Huttenhower (Harvard University), Janet Jansson (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab), Rob Knight (University of Colorado, Boulder), Sarkis Mazmanian (California Insitute of Technology), David Mills (University of California, Davis), David Relman (Stanford University) and Vincent Young (University of Michigan).

The human microbime colloquium participants. 

The human microbime colloquium participants. 

The panel spent a day at the ASM Headquarter in Washington DC and discussed and drafted answers on different topics/questions that included: 

1. What is the human microbiome?

2. Where does our microbiome come from?

3. How big is the microbiome?

4. Where is the microbiome located, and what is it doing?

5. is everyone's microbiome the same?

6. Does the microbiome change over time?

7. What is the relationship between the microbiome, health, and disease?

8. Spotlight on the role of the gut microbiome in digestion and metabolism 

9. How can I take care of my microbial partner?

Those topics make the different section of the FAQ report. The report was actually written and wonderfully done by Ann Reid, who was the Director of the American Academy of Microbiology up to December 13 and is now the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education and Shannon Greene who is the Colloquium Fellow at the Academy. 

Along with the FAQ report, the Academy has put together an infographic poster and a trifold. Those are great resources. 

I'll encourage you to download the FAQ report and spread the words on the availability of the report. Please share this link not the PDF!