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Researchers collaborate on Human Microbiome Project


Narrator:       This is Science Today. Eighty research institutions are collaborating on the Human Microbiome Project to understand the bacteria that live in and on the human body. The goal is to see how these microbes not only maintain human health, but how changes in this ecosystem may contribute to disease. Participating investigator Katherine Pollard of the UC San Francisco-affiliated Gladstone Institutes, says they're using next-generation DNA-sequencers to identify these microbes. Pollard's group developed a software analysis tool that can then identify the microbial signatures.

Pollard:          It's like there was a library full of books and you tore out all the pages from the books and just put them in a big pile and they're in no order. So, we're taking genomes, which would be books, and we're just seeing the pages. So, our software program essentially is able to read books just by looking at individual pages; come up with a summary of all the information in the library basically, without ever reassembling the books.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.