The Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics was founded in 2015 by Eric Alm, Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, and Ramnik Xavier, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, at Massachusetts General Hospital. The Center’s mission is to streamline discovery of diagnostics and treatments for microbiome-associated disease by serving as the hub of clinically-relevant human microbiome research and engineering.
Current understanding of the interplay between the microbiome, the complex ecosystems of microbes that reside in and on our bodies, and fundamental physiological processes is in its infancy. A rapidly-growing pool of evidence shows that this relationship is important for health, and that an altered microbiome is relevant to disease, although the full spectrum of disease states associated with such imbalances are not yet known.
The need for microbiome-related therapeutics is large and expanding, while current knowledge of microbiome function is relatively small and will be challenging to dissect. The Center strives to solve this problem by breaking down the boundaries between the bench and the clinic through the by supporting strategically designed research that directly translates to clinical or therapeutic applications. To do this, the Center encourages interdisciplinary investigations at the nexus of basic scientific research, computational biology, engineering, and clinical practice; collaborates with hospitals and other institutes; and cultivates and educates diverse academic and non-academic communities, within and beyond MIT, on the importance of microbiome research.
The Center was launched with an initial budget of $25M, expendable over 5 years, that will enable three core core functions:
- Financial support for the most relevant research proposals and clinical studies.
- Sharing services between groups and across institutions to accelerate discoveries.
- Building an active community of talented researchers and clinicians.