NIH Renews Baylor College of Medicine Grant for Human Microbiome Project Program at Texas Children’s Hospital

September 7, 2010

HOUSTON, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov) today announced expanded funding of the Baylor College of Medicine Human Microbiome Project clinical program initiated last year at Texas Children Hospital (www.texaschildrens.org).

The program will receive $3.4 million over three years to broaden the current study of pediatric abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome. A key question will be how human microbes affect pain signaling in the nervous system.

The Human Microbiome Project was launched by the NIH in 2008 to help researchers better understand how the trillions of microscopic organisms that live in or on the human body affect human health and lives.

One of three NIH-designated genome centers, the BCM Human Genome Sequencing Center (www.hgsc.bcm.tmc.edu/) has been involved with the Human Microbiome Project (http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/hmp/) since the initial launch.

In June 2009, the NIH announced the first clinical projects generated by the Human Microbiome Project. BCM received one of 15 awards: www.bcm.edu/news/item.cfm?newsID=1468, and after a competitive review, received a three-year renewal award.

“Metagonemics (study of microbial genomes) is going to have a tremendous impact on the future of medicine,” said Dr. James Versalovic, principal investigator on the project and a professor of pathology, pediatrics, molecular and human genetics, and molecular virology and microbiology at BCM. “We are excited to be involved in this major NIH initiative. It highlights the advancements of the BCM Human Genome Sequencing Center and our collaboration with Texas Children’s Hospital.”

Key collaborators on the project include:

  • Drs. Richard Gibbs, director of the BCM Human Genome Sequencing Center;
  • Joseph Petrosino, assistant professor of molecular virology and microbiology at BCM;
  • Amy McGuire, associate professor in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at BCM;
  • Robert Shulman, professor of pediatrics – gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at BCM and director of the Nutritional Support Team at Texas Children’s.

Healthy children and children with irritable bowel syndrome or abdominal pain will be recruited through Texas Children’s Hospital and Texas Children’s Pediatric Associates (www.texaschildrenspediatrics.org/).

“This project will be scaled up from 40 children last year to 150 this year,” said Versalovic.

As an expansion of the project, DNA and RNA samples from the children’s gastrointestinal tract will be sequenced to better understand the composition and function of the microbial community of this area of the body and how it might affect abdominal pain and gastrointestinal motility.

“Irritable bowel syndrome and chronic abdominal pain can be very severe and painful in children,” said Versalovic, also chief of pathology at Texas Children’s, as well as director of the Texas Children’s Microbiome Center. “We are hopeful our findings will lead to many new discoveries in diagnosis and treatment for these conditions in children, as well as adults.”

Currently, the conditions are hard to diagnose and treat.

This project is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (www2.niddk.nih.gov/).

About Baylor College of Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu) in Houston is recognized as a premier academic health science center and is known for excellence in education, research and patient care. It is the only private medical school in the greater southwest and is ranked as one of the top 25 medical schools for research in U.S. News & World Report. BCM is listed 13th among all U.S. medical schools for National Institutes of Health funding, and No. 2 in the nation in federal funding for research and development in the biological sciences at universities and colleges by the National Science Foundation. Located in the Texas Medical Center, BCM has affiliations with eight teaching hospitals. Currently, BCM trains more than 3,000 medical, graduate, nurse anesthesia, and physician assistant students, as well as residents and post-doctoral fellows. BCM is also home to the Baylor Clinic, an adult clinical practice that includes advanced technologies for faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatment, access to the latest clinical trials and discoveries, and groundbreaking healthcare based on proven research. Follow Baylor College of Medicine on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BaylorCollegeOfMedicine) and twitter (http://twitter.com/BCMHouston).

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital is committed to a community of healthy children by providing the finest pediatric patient care, education and research. Renowned worldwide for its expertise and breakthrough developments in clinical care and research, Texas Children’s is nationally ranked in all ten subspecialties in U.S. News & World Report‘s list of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. Texas Children’s also operates the nation’s largest primary pediatric care network, with more than 40 offices throughout the greater Houston community. Texas Children’s has embarked on a $1.5 billion expansion, Vision 2010, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute(TM), a comprehensive obstetrics facility focusing on high-risk births and a community hospital in suburban West Houston. For more information on Texas Children’s Hospital, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news from Texas Children’s Hospital by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.

    Gracie Gutierrez
    Baylor College of Medicine

    Christy Brunton
    Texas Children's Hospital

SOURCE Texas Children’s Hospital

Source: newswire

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