$14 million in grant contributions to boost gut microbiome research at UC San Diego  

A brand new Microbiome and Metagenomics Center at UC San Diego will be launching soon after receiving $14.55 million from the Nutrition for Precision Health consortium. While many nutritional aspects impacting gut health and overall well-being remain unknown, this new center will provide more insight into factors that affect individual nutrition and dietary routines. 

The Microbiome and Metagenomics Center will research contributing gut health factors ranging from an individual’s physical environment and genetics to personal metabolism and nutritional norms. This newly funded research center will also conduct studies and analytics on the gut microbiomes of nutritional study participants through individual stool sampling.

In addition to the financial contributions to UC San Diego School of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is providing $170 million in grant funding to universities and research centers across the country. This national influx of financial resources will add to a consortium known as Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program

UCSD lab
A student processes microbiome samples in the UC San Diego School of Medicine lab of Rob Knight, PhD. (Photo credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego)

This national study consortium will also build and research a diverse group of volunteer participants for researchers to design unique algorithms. These scientific algorithmic equations will aid in indicating participants’ responses to particular diets. With this information, medical professionals can help to advise more personalized nutritional guidance to patients now and in the future.

By increasing study institutions and gaining a plethora of study subjects from across the country, researchers will have the ability to gather data from a broader subject base to increase testing indicators and insights in this narrow and nuanced field of study.

The Future of the Microbiome and Metagenomics Center at UC San Diego

Along with bridging the gap between gut health and individual diet, the Microbiome and Metagenomics Center at UC San Diego will build upon other more expansive studies. The center will add to large-scale research activities such as the Human Microbiome Project, the American Gut Project, and the Earth Microbiome Project. 

In addition to the strong team of researchers being put together for the Microbiome and Metagenomics Center at UC San Diego, there will also be a collaboration with the cross-disciplinary microbiome community at the University of California San Diego and researchers at Duke University. 

“Bringing this expertise and technology to bear on the incredibly challenging problem of nutrition and health will enable a whole new level of precision in answering the age-old question of ‘what should I eat today’?’ We are just starting to understand how the microbiome can answer this with a surprising level of individual detail, not just broad-strokes generalizations for the whole population,” explains Rob Knight, Ph.D. in a statement. Professor Knight is the director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Jacobs School of Engineering.

Hopeful Research Advancements Stemming from Consortium Studies

Scientists and researchers in this field look optimistically toward the potentials these nutritional studies may bring in the future. Just like medicine affects people differently due to personal and genetic attributes, the same is proving to be true of nutritional habits and dietary needs on the gut microbiome. Researchers hope that gathering and analyzing more data from a broader base of participants will aid them in advancing, individualizing, and tailoring nutritional treatment plans for patients in the future to contribute to healthier internal physiological function and overall well-being. 

The research program information is found at All of Us Research Program.   

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