The project would aim to fill in the gaps when it comes to the microbiome, potentially resulting in medical breakthroughs.
President Obama is pushing a major scientific project that could potentially lead to huge medical breakthroughs.
A total of $121 million in federal spending in the next year will go to a number of agencies who are studying the microbiome, or the mysterious system of microbes that live in our guts, in animals, in the environment, and in the atmosphere, according to a White House statement.
It’s called the National Microbiome Initiative, and the aim is to help us understand the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live all around us, some of them having negative effects and others with positive effects.
There’s a recognition that the complicated microbiome that lives in our gut is vital to our health, with many beneficial bacteria we couldn’t live without. Companies are currently marketing probiotics to help with this gut culture, but there isn’t any scientific evidence they work. Scientists hope this initiative will help us fill in the gaps of knowledge about this important culture of microbes and how they affect life.
The Department of Energy, NASA, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will receive the $121 million.
“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.”