We are home to an enormous microbial ecosystem containing more than 100 trillion bacteria, a number equal to our own human cells.
More astonishing than the number of bacteria is the sheer amount of genetic diversity these bacteria contribute to our physiology.
It is estimated that for every one of our genes, there are approximately 145 microbial genes. This roughly equals 3.3 million bacterial genes in the intestine to the 23,000 in the human genome (Qin, 2010).
Collectively, these bacteria are referred to as the microbiota and they perform essential functions in the maintenance of our health.
However, shifts in the composition, distribution and/or function of the microbiota have been implicated in diseases of the GI tract such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC).
Working Together for a Common Goal
It has become increasingly evident that the state of our gut also influences our entire physiology, playing important roles in systemic diseases such as autism, hematological cancers and multiple sclerosis.
To understand this complex community, it will take investigators from distinct scientific backgrounds working together towards a common goal. If that goal is to cure disease then cooperation and collaboration between clinicians and scientists must be a priority.
Center for Microbiome Sciences & Therapeutics
The Center for Microbiome Sciences & Therapeutics (CMiST) serves as a hub of collaboration and connectivity for researchers and clinicians at the University of Washington and its affiliated campuses.
Its main goals are to advance the understanding of the dynamic interaction between the microbiome and our own cells, to drive discovery of microbiome-based drugs to treat inflammatory bowel disease and other inflammatory disorders and to supporting an arts and science program designed to educate and inspire the community about the importance of the microbiome in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
A Leader in Microbiome Sciences
CMiST not only provides UW and UW affiliated investigators with an intellectual home, but also provides opportunities for collaboration and access to technological resources and tools they need to take their research to a new level.
In turn, this helps to establish the University of Washington as a leader in the field of microbiome sciences.
CMiST has several different research and practice foci that will evolve as the center grows over the next few years. Our four main research initiatives are:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Molecular Nutrition
- Synthetic Biology & Therapeutics
- CMiST Art+Science