The human body is home to trillions of microorganisms that outnumber human cells by as much as an order of magnitude. It is becoming increasingly clear that these microbial communities, known as the “human microbiome”, have a profound impact on human health. Altered microbial communities are associated with diverse diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, allergy, and obesity. Many of these organisms resist cultivation, making it necessary to rely on cultivation-independent approaches to identify and enumerate the members of the human microbiome. Advances in DNA sequencing technology have enabled the study of microbial community composition on the basis of genetic material from intact microbial communities. This approach is broadly termed “microbial metagenomics”, and allows microbial communities to be analyzed without cultivation.
The goal of the Microbiome Research Laboratory (MRL) is to support basic and translational researchers who wish to use microbial metagenomics in their research activities. The MRL allows researchers to access a complete microbial metagenomic analysis pipeline encompassing study design, sample processing, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis of data. Thus, the MRL aims to facilitate innovative research on the microbiome in a variety of basic, translational, and clinical fields.