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Leading scientists have joined together and called for an interdisciplinary, public-private initiative focused on the microbiome. The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) applauds this call for a formal approach to understanding microbial communities critical to all ecosystems, particularly the human body.
"Understanding the gut microbiome is critical to advancing digestive disease patient care, and as such AGA has made research and education around the gut microbiome an organizational priority," says Michael Camilleri, MD, AGAF, president of the AGA Institute. "AGA fully supports the call for a formal microbiome strategy and is eager to contribute our knowledge and resources related to the gut microbiome and its impact on health and disease."
Gastroenterology is poised to play a critical role in this initiative due to its unique insight into the gut microbiome. Rob Knight, PhD, member of the AGA Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education scientific advisory board and professor of pediatrics and computer science at the University of California in San Diego, explains: "The gut microbiome is a particularly illustrative example of microbiomes, because everyone has one and has experienced what it is like when that ecosystem is out of balance. The accessibility of the site -- you don't have to go to the rainforest to see thousands of species interacting, you just have to go to the bathroom -- positions gastroenterology to make fundamental contributions, not just to human health but to ecosystem science."
AGA established its microbiome center in April 2013, with the goal of fostering education and research around this important area of science. Since its inception, the center has worked to:
• Expand literature on the gut microbiome, developing a special issue of Gastroenterology specifically focused on gut microbiome research.
• Provide education, gathering international leaders for microbiome-focused meetings. AGA, in conjunction with the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility (ESNM), is in the midst of planning a robust research-focused agenda for the 2016 Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit.
• Advance our understanding of the gut microbiome. Currently, AGA is partnering with American Gut to collect 500 gut microbiota samples from AGA volunteers. Interesting trends in this cohort will be reported during a special session at Digestive Disease Week® 2016.
• Influence policy: AGA is planning its second congressional briefing to address gut microbiome opportunities and needs, as well as the pertinent microbiome issues of antibiotic resistance and fecal transplants.
• Track and collect data on clinical efforts. AGA, in collaboration with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN), is working to develop a national registry on fecal microbiota transplantation.
• Fund research, through several gut microbiome-focused research grants for young scientists.
Source: American Gastroenterological Association