Food Science and Technology Department


Department of Food Science and Technology: Faculty Publications

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Date of this Version



Cell (October 9, 2014) 159(2): 227–230

doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.09.022.


The human microbiome has become a recognized factor in promoting and maintaining health. We outline opportunities in interdisciplinary research, analytical rigor, standardization, and policy development for this relatively new and rapidly developing field. Advances in these aspects of the research community may in turn advance our understanding of human microbiome biology.

It is now widely recognized that disturbances in our normal microbial populations may be linked to acute infections such as Clostridium difficile and to chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, and autoimmune disorders. This has prompted substantial interest in the microbiome from both basic and clinical perspectives. Although our genome is relatively static throughout life, each of our microbial communities changes profoundly from infancy through adulthood, continuing to adapt through ongoing exposures to diet, drugs, and environment. Understanding the microbiome and its dynamic nature may be critical for diagnostics and, eventually, interventions based on the microbiome itself. However, several important challenges limit the ability of researchers to enter the microbiome field and/or conduct research most effectively.