The new National Microbiome Initiative will start with a federal investment of $121 million in funding from several agencies and will include private support from more than 100 outside organizations, including $100 million over four years from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a White House fact sheet that was posted online on Thursday.
The new initiative is the latest in a series of Obama administration programs to advance medical science.
It has already launched the Precision Medicine Initiative, which is trying to accelerate research into treatments tailored to individual patients; the BRAIN Initiative, the project to map the human brain; and Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer research effort, which is now getting underway.
The microbiome can refer to any community of microorganisms living in a particular environment, although perhaps the best known — and best studied — is the human gut microbiome.
Those bugs that live in the digestive tract (along with others found on skin, inside mouths, and elsewhere in and on us) play a big role in maintaining health and immunity, as well as contributing to chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma.
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