White House announces huge new scientific project

White House announces huge new scientific project

President Obama said in a statement that $121 million will be pledged for learning about the microbiome.

The White House will propose more than $121 million in federal spending in the next year at numerous agencies on a project to study the microbiome.

The microbiome refers to microbes living in and on animals, the dirt, the seas, and the atmosphere, and the National Microbiome Initiative is aimed at better understanding these bacteria, viruses, and fungi, as well as how they function and how they could be used to benefit mankind, according to a White House statement.

The $121 million will go to the Department of Energy, NASA, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Probiotic products have been rising in popularity in recent years, but scientists say they don’t quite understand how the many different kinds of digestive bacteria that live in our gut affect certain aspects of our health. It’s not clear which bacteria does what jobs, and therefore what bacteria should be replaced in the event of a sickness.

This new project would aim to fill in those gaps in understanding, which could lead to tremendous medical breakthroughs in the future, officials hope.

“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.”



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