Stepanauskas visits White House


On May 13, Dr. Ramunas Stepanauskas was invited to the White House as part of the announcement of the National Microbiome Initiative (NMI). The NMI will provide a strong base of support through public and private funding to advance research on microbial life including microbes that live in humans, animals, crops, soils, oceans, and more in order to aid in the development of useful applications in areas such as health care, food production, and environmental restoration.

The White House has named three primary goals for the NMI, which were developed through a year-long fact-finding process that involved Federal agencies, non-government scientists, and a broad community of citizens. These goals are:

  • Supporting interdisciplinary research to answer fundamental questions about microbiomes in diverse ecosystems.
  • Developing platform technologies that will generate insights and help share knowledge of microbiomes in diverse ecosystems and enhance access to microbiome data.
  • Expanding the microbiome workforce through citizen science and educational opportunities.

The announcement by the White House highlighted the ways in which leading microbial research centers will support these goals, and named Bigelow Laboratory’s Single Cell Genomics Center specifically, emphasizing its research to improve single-cell genomics (SCG) technology. As a leader in marine microbial research, Bigelow Laboratory is poised to provide valuable insights into the role of microbes in ocean ecosystems, and to collaborate with microbial researchers across fields to advance knowledge of the microbial world.

“The National Microbiome Initiative is a very exciting development for microbial research and an indication of the growing awareness of the importance of microbes in everything from the food we eat, to the air we breathe, and our individual health,” explains Stepanauskas. “I was honored to represent Bigelow Laboratory at this important announcement and look forward to working with colleagues from around the world to increase our knowledge of microbiomes.”