In 2016, the National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) was conceived through the recognition that humans are both connected to and reliant upon the microbial communities that constitute the Earth’s microbiomes, in the environment as well as the human body. This COBRE program was formed to create an Integrative Center for Environmental Microbiomes and Human Health (ICEMHH) in response to the NMI.
The ICEMHH focuses on becoming the interface between the microbial environment and human health, and spans state-of-the-art ‘-omics’ methods to ecological analyses and predictive models. The University of Hawaiʻi brings three compelling strengths to microbiome research: the uniquely tractable and scalable landscape of the Hawaiian Islands, an exceptionally qualified biology faculty, and a dedication to the diversity of people that live on the Islands. As the most diverse biome on Earth, Hawaiʻi offers the opportunity to study the effects of ecological gradients on human health, from mountain to sea, and in both urban and rural settings.
The program’s projects aim to address two critical and intertwined health problems: the deteriorating environment, and the current spread of insect-vector borne diseases. In this context, ICEMHH research efforts (i) explore how human health is impacted by exposure to pathogenic microbes in the environment; (ii) examine how the microbiomes of insect vectors affect their transmission of disease within the microcosm of the island of Oʻahu; and, (iii) exploit invertebrate models to provide insight into the underlying cellular, genetic, and molecular mechanisms by which microbiomes confer health. In this way, the Center will provide lasting contributions to the State of Hawaiʻi, and beyond.
Grant #: NIH/NIGMS P20 GM125508
Integrative Center for Environmental Microbiomes and Human Health