Communities of microorganisms (microbiomes) abound everywhere and impact (for example) human and animal health, agricultural productivity, water and food safety, and waste remediation. In spite of the huge potential impact of microbiome science, current measurement capabilities are insufficient and interlaboratory comparability of measurements on microbiomes is generally poor. Improvements in measurement assurance tools will enable microbiome researchers to readily share and advance each other’s findings, allow federal agencies to safely and appropriately regulate microbiome products, and foster the consistent translation of microbiome discoveries into commercially viable products and services. As this field matures, it is increasingly important that microbiome measurements and data be supported by solid metrology.
NIST and partners are seeking to develop standards and new measurement science infrastructure to improve confidence in microbiome measurements. Research topics include (1) quantitative descriptions of the uncertainty and bias present in current and emerging sequencing and metabolomics measurement capabilities; (2) round-robin evaluations of all stages of microbiome measurements to address comparability and sources of variability between experimenters, laboratories, and institutions; (3) identification and characterization of reference materials that can be used to benchmark performance; (4) development and validation of standardized protocols (e.g., sample collection and handling, DNA extraction, PCR amplification, library prep and pooling, bioinformatics); and (5) validated measurement results and critically curated reference data shared with the community.
Much of this effort will require close collaboration with academic, government, and industry partners. Interested postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds (e.g., microbiology, bioinformatics, biostatistics, engineering, genomics, and analytical chemistry) are invited to apply.
Microbiomes; Microbiology; Microbial community; Engineering; Standards in biology; Bioinformatics; Metrology; Metabolomics; Sequencing;