The human microbiome project (HMP) was a large scale program sponsored by the NIH's common fund, which sought to define the healthy human microbiome. The HMP was a success, and its main findings serve as a foundation upon which most microbiome science is built (cited almost 700 times in 2 years!). Perhaps it was the unexpected successor to the human genome project (HGP), but it is already nearing the HGP in influence.
Because of its success the NIH is sponsoring the human microbiome project 2 (HMP2), otherwise known as the integrative human microbiome project (iHMP). Where HMP1 investigated what the human microbiome looked like, iHMP is looking at how the human microbiome is associated with various "exemplars of microbiome-associated human conditions".
These three conditions are:
1) "Pregnancy, including those that end in preterm birth"
2) "Gut disease onset, using inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as a model"
3) "Respiratory viral infection and onset of type 2 diabetes (T2D)"
iHMP will track large cohorts of individuals for each of these conditions for 3 years to perform complete longitudinal studies. Many variables and data sets will be tracked, compiled, and made public. Of course bacteria will be sampled, but, for the first time, comprehensive sampling of metabolites from those bacteria will also be performed. The results of iHMP will be published periodically and will last from 2013 to 2016.
We would like to thank the entire HMP consortium of scientific investigators for their efforts, but especially Lita Proctor, who has championed the microbiome within the NIH for many years. Her perspective on iHMP, which was recently published in Cell, was the basis for this blog post and from where the quotations are drawn.
We will will kick off a 3 part blog series here on the AMI blog where I review the 3 microbiome conditions that are being studied in the iHMP. Check back on Monday for a post discussion about how the microbiome is associated with pregnancy, and how the iHMP plans to perform its investigation.