Who we are
The Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics was founded in 2014 with a $25 million gift to MIT from the Neil and Anna Rasmussen Family Foundation. The Rasmussens vision was to spur research into the Inflammatory Bowel Disease, while creating a translational research pipeline that could be adapted to develop therapeutics for any microbiome-associated disease, and providing the next generation of physicians and researchers with an education on cutting-edge human microbiome research.
The Center is directed by Drs. Eric Alm (MIT and Broad Institute) and Ramnik Xavier (Broad Institute and MGH), both experts in the human gut microbiome, and is part of the Institute of Medical Engineering and Science at MIT.
Since 2014, the Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics has grown to encompass a program of over 21 funded researchers and 13 clinical collaborators from institutes throughout NEw England working on diagnostics and therapeutics for IBD as well as autism, Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, response to cancer immunotherapy, drug metabolism, and the influence of diet on microbiome.
What we do
At the Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics we are developing diagnostics and therapeutics that target the gut microbiome to help patients with inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
The human microbiome is the community of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that lives in and on our bodies. The microbiome is an accessory organ that performs essential functions for proper gut maturation and function, metabolism, and immunity.
In recent decade, there has been a rise in the numbers of people in urban centers that have been diagnosed with inflammatory and autoimmune disease. At the same time, there has been a decline in the different species of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that make up the gut microbiome in these populations compared to people living in rural and indigenous communities. The link is the western lifestyle which has severely impacted our gut microbiome through factors like overuse of antibiotics, cesarean birth, formula-feeding, and diets lacking fiber and rich in processed foods. On top of this, our lack of exposure to infectious disease in early life – also known as the means that our immune system is poorly trained. This means that our immune cells cannot always identify true pathogens from our own cells, leading to the rise in autoimmunity and disease.
The Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics brings together researchers with a track record of scientific and clinical excellence from different disciplines spanning engineering, math, and biology, and clinical practice. Collaboratively our faculty are creating therapeutics and diagnostics that target the microbiome to treat disease.
We are engineering the gut microbiome with microorganisms, and the molecules they create, that normally live and act within the bodies of healthy individuals. In this way we can create low-cost, effective therapies with a low risk of side effects.
Our goal is to deliver therapies to patients with increasingly common, debilitating conditions linked to a disrupted microbiome including allergic diseases, and inflammatory and autoimmune conditions:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease)
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Celiac Disease
- Food allergy