Science Market Update

Columbia University Increases Microbiome Research Potential

Posted by Laura Braden on Tue, Mar 29, 2016

Image of E. coli via NIAID on Wikimedia Commons.The human microbiome is a complex system of bacteria that live and interact in different tissues and organs throughout the body. This complex system is a growing area of focus for life science researchers looking to learn more about these interactions and functions. In order to help its researchers in this rapidly expanding field, Columbia University in New York has established both a working group and a new core facility to help increase research potential of the microbiome.

Within the Columbia University Medical Center, the Microbiome Working Group was established in 2014 to help researchers from different departments discuss the newest methods involved in researching the microbiome. The group meets about twice a month and hosts seminars by researchers from Columbia University and other institutions.

Ryan Demmer, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia, explained that “in microbiome research the best collaborations are multidisciplinary because individual investigators rarely have expertise that transcends the basic, clinical, and population sciences. We’re trying to bring together all of the necessary perspectives.”

Current participants in the working group come from a variety of departments, including:

  • Biomedical Informatics
  • Systems Biology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Epidemiology

Columbia University. Along with creating the working group, the Columbia University Department of Medicine has also established a new Microbiome Core Facility to provide additional services and support to these researchers.

In explanation of the benefits of this core facility, Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, PhD, from the CUMC Division of Infectious Diseases said that: “Although many clinician investigators are studying large cohorts that are relevant for microbiome research there are some unique considerations that distinguish this type of study from a straightforward epidemiological study. We want to help address these challenges.”


Services offered through the core facility include:

  • Guidance on designing research studies. 
  • Offering assistance with collecting, storing and shipping frozen genetic samples needed for genetic sequencing.
  • Assisting researchers with DNA extraction and batch samples.

Microbiome research is still a growing field, and these services at Columbia will greatly help researchers. “Even with the progress that microbiome research has made we’re in an early, semi-descriptive stage, where even really good studies are just characterizing the composition of the human microbiome. There’s so much work to be done to translate this knowledge into therapies, and I think we are just hitting the tip of the iceberg of the relevant expertise at Columbia,” explained Daniel Freedberg, MD, from the CUMC.

Columbia University in New York.

This new addition to the life science facilities at Columbia University is yet another example of the institution's leading role in life science research. In the 2015 fiscal year, the university received more than $331.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Some projects benefiting from this funding include:


    Columbia Researcher Identifies New Gene Involved in Color Blindness

    UMinn Opens New Microbiology Research Building

    UIUC Scientists Understand Differences Amongst Brains

    Columbia University, in conjunction with Yale University, UC San Diego, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, received a $40 million boost from the Kavli Foundation as a part of the President's BRAIN Initiative which rewards high-risk, interdisciplinary research.
  2. Columbia University Medical Center formed a $30 million alliance with Biogen Idec to target genetic research on discovering the underlying causes of diseases and identifying new treatment opportunities.
  3. Columbia University Medical Center Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center received an $18 million, five year Cancer Center Support Grant from the NCI in recognition of its impactful basic and clinical research.

A lab supplier shares information with life scientists at a past BioResearch Product Faire™ Event at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York. Interested in meeting face-to-face with hundreds of active life science researchers from Columbia University in one place in just a few hours time?

Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. produces an annual BioResearch Product Faire™ Event in New York that brings together lab suppliers with more than 325 of these active Columbia University scientists. 

The 7th Semiannual BioResearch Product Faire™ Event at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York, which is adjacent to Columbia University, will be held on September 29, 2016. At the 2015 event, researchers from 44 different science departments and 20 on-campus buildings attended the event. 

To learn more about participating in the upcoming event in New York on 9/29/16, as well as to receive more funding stats for Columbia University, visit the link below:

 Learn More About  Columbia Event


Tags: Northeast, microbiome, New York, Columbia University, Columbia, Research, NY, Columbia University Medical Center, 2016, BioResearch Product Faire, CUMC

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