Rather than simple passengers in and on our bodies, commensal microorganisms play key roles in human physiology and diseases. Many scientific advances have been made through the work of large-scale, consortium-driven metagenomic projects.
Despite these technical advances that help us acquire more accurate organismal compositions and functional profiles of human-associated microbial communities, there are still many fundamental questions to be addressed at the systems level. After all, microbes form very complex and dynamic ecosystems, which can be altered by dietary changes, medical interventions, and many other factors.
The alterability of our microbiome offers a promising future for practical microbiome-based therapies, such as fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), but also raises long-term safety concerns. Indeed, due to its high complexity, untargeted interventions could shift our microbiome to an undesired state with unintended health consequences.
To attain the bright future promised by microbiota-based therapies, we must better understand the structure, dynamics, and control of our microbial ecosystems.
Investigators at the Channing Division of Network Medicine have built a comprehensive research strategy to conduct both methodology development and cohort studies.