MIT Initiates Microbiome Club

A core mission of MIT’s Microbiome Center for Informatics and Therapeutics (MBIT) is to attract new talent to the field of human microbiome science and broaden its reach by involving the entire academic community. To that end, we are excited to announce the launch of our very own Microbiome Club here at MIT!

Our vision is to create a space at MIT dedicated to the exploration of this vibrant field, bringing together the students, researchers, clinicians, and members of the public currently working on or interested in studying the human microbiome. We are looking forward to using the club as a great way to expose undergraduate students to the field of microbiome-based medicine and to create a strong collaborative community in the microbiome space here at MIT. This network will put MIT and the Center at the cutting edge of microbiome research and entice more people to enter this fascinating and vital field.

With a budget from MBIT already set aside for the club’s activities, we are poised to start activities and events as soon as we receive administrative approval by the the Association of Student Activities. The club will host bi-weekly meetings with invited speakers, including researchers and clinicians focused on the microbiome from both the Boston area and other national institutions and universities. Having just attended the Harvard School of Public Health Microbiome Collaboration’s (HSPH-MC) annual symposium on the Microbiome and Public Health, we can’t wait to host our own similar symposia – and are looking forward to collaborating with the HSPH-MC on larger events that reach out to and connect the larger Boston microbiome community. Furthermore, we are excited to involve our members in analyzing and writing about cutting edge papers in the microbiome field on this blog. From our bi-weekly invited speakers to our discussions on the most cutting edge papers in the field, this blog will provide a great additional place to learn about and discuss new discoveries and their potential therapeutic effects.

Finally, we are enthusiastic to draw upon the wealth of knowledge and innovation at MIT and in Boston through hackathons targeted toward specific microbiome applications. Hackathons are already an integral part of the MIT community, bringing together people from different backgrounds and expertises for short and intense project-focused collaborative events – usually one- or two-day competitions focused on solving problems relevant to a common theme. For example, the Center’s flagship project, a study of inflammatory bowel disease patients over the course of many years, will require significant technological innovation in order to make sampling feasible for the time scales involved. While a handful of graduate students could try to tackle this challenge on their own, the Microbiome Club will be able to crowdsource technological innovation and host hackathons encouraging bright MIT students to apply their knowledge and skills to this problem.

Above all, we are just excited to create a space for interested students to come together and plug into the network of research and outreach opportunities in this vibrant, new field. The MIT Microbiome Club is currently being spearheaded by graduate students in the Alm lab, but we are actively looking for interested members keen on helping shape the future of this club on campus. If you are interested in getting involved, send us an email at microbiome-exec@mit.edu.

ClaireClaire Duvallet is a first year graduate student in Biological Engineering working in Eric Alm’s lab. She’s interested in using physiological data to predict disease states on the individualized and broader community levels. Having just entered the field of microbiome studies herself, she’s excited to get the word out about this cool new field as one of the founding members of the MIT Microbiome Club.

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