The White House is pledging $121 million in funding for an initiative to study the microbiome.
The White House is pledging to invest $121 million in federal dollars in the next year to study the microbiome, potentially leading to medical breakthroughs.
Scientists have many gaps in our understanding the microbiome, or all the microbes that live in our gut and have many beneficial functions. Microbiomes also exist in animals, in the atmosphere, in the ground, and in our oceans. Learning more about the microbiome could better help us deal with diseases by zeroing in on beneficial bacteria, and scientists are hopeful that this major initiative will help them gain critical knowledge in this realm.
The National Microbiome Initiative is aimed at understanding bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and the moneys will go to the Department of Energy, NASA, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a White House statement.
“Probiotics” have recently exploded in popularity, but scientists aren’t sure what certain bacteria do and whether such probiotic products actually work.
“Microbiomes are the communities of microorganisms that live on or in people, plants, soil, oceans, and the atmosphere,” the White House statement reads. “Microbiomes maintain healthy function of these diverse ecosystems, influencing human health, climate change, food security, and other factors.
“Dysfunctional microbiomes are associated with issues including human chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma; local ecological disruptions such as the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico; and reductions in agricultural productivity,” it continues. “Numerous industrial processes such as biofuel production and food processing depend on healthy microbial communities. Although new technologies have enabled exciting discoveries about the importance of microbiomes, scientists still lack the knowledge and tools to manage microbiomes in a manner that prevents dysfunction or restores healthy function.”