This meeting was held on December 19-20, 2016 at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Keck Center at 500 5th Street NW, Washington, DC.
Our understanding of the contributions of microbial communities that occupy various sites in our bodies to health and disease is advancing rapidly. A large number of international projects have focused on characterizing these communities, which include members of all three domains of life on Earth (i.e. bacteria, archaea and eukarya) and their viruses. These projects have produced experimental and computational resources that enable analysis of community functions. In recent months, the White House launched the National Microbiome Initiative to “foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems” (https://www.whitehouse.gov/thepressoffice/2016/05/12/factsheetannouncingnationalmicrobiome-initiative) pulling together federal agencies, academic institutions and private entities.
Most preclinical research has focused on the mouse as a model organism for delineating the mechanisms that shape the assembly and dynamic operations of microbial communities, for performing preclinical proof-of-concept tests of causal relationships between given community configurations/ memberships and host physiologic, metabolic, immune and neurologic phenotypes; and for developing methods to repair or prevent functional abnormalities in these communities that contribute to disease pathogenesis. This public workshop is designed to examine animal models of microbiome research. Invited speakers will (i) explore how to improve the depth and breadth of analysis of microbial communities using various model organisms; (ii) address the challenges of standardization and biological variability that are inherent in gnotobiotic animal-based research; (iii) examine the predictability and translatability of preclinical studies to humans; and (iv) discuss strategies for expanding the infrastructure and tools for conducting studies in these types of models. They will address gaps, challenges and opportunities in this rapidly expanding field with particular attention to the care, use, and welfare of the gnotobiotic animals.
An individually authored summary of the presentations and discussions at the workshop will be prepared by a designated rapporteur in accordance with institutional guidelines.
This workshop is made possible by generous donations from: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the American Veterinary Medical Association; Covance Laboratories; Genentech; GlaxoSmithKline; Massachusetts General Hospital; Merck; National Primate Research Centers; National Science Foundation; Novartis; University of California, Davis; University of Michigan; University of Pittsburgh; University of Washington; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Yale University.