Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research

About Us

Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research

The Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research is coordinating and leading research and development efforts in this area across the Texas Medical Center and with collaborators from around the United States and abroad.

Human Microbiome Project

The human microbiome is defined as the microbes (bacteria, single-cell eukaryotes, and viruses) that colonize the body, while metagenomics refers to culture independent, genomic analyses of the DNA and RNA recovered from these microbial communities. We are particularly interested in identifying the organisms that impact human health and disease, and how these microbes interact with the host and each other in the diverse environments found in the human body.

CMMR researchers are developing molecular and informatic tools and resources to advance numerous clinical and basic research projects pertaining to the organisms that comprise the microbiome, the genetic makeup of these bacteria, viruses and eukaryotes, and how these commensal microorganisms interact with human cells and tissues during the course of life. The intent is for these projects to lead to the development of new treatments and diagnostics for a variety of heritable and infectious diseases as well as the development of additional reagents having other biotech applications.

Goals of CMMR

  • Support existing metagenomic research programs that are ongoing at Baylor College of Medicine
  • Provide support for investigators/clinical collaborators who have ideal model systems for metagenomics but who do not know where to begin such studies
  • Expand metagenomic research into animal and molecular model systems to initiate and support hypothesis-driven research that is unable to be performed in humans
  • Provide a critical mass in bioinformatic expertise for analyzing and providing statistical support for metagenomic data
  • Provide new therapeutics and diagnostics relating to the human microbiota that can eventually be translated to the clinical setting

Center History

The CMMR was founded in 2011 and is directed by Dr. Joseph Petrosino. Its purpose was to establish itself as an extension to Baylor College of Medicine’s involvement in the Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institute of Health, in order to help the College maintain its position as a leader in the area of Metagenomic and Microbiome Research, as well as enable metagenomic and microbiome researchers to continue exploring deeper aspects of the human microbiome and the host-microbe interactions that impact health and disease. The CMMR will also provide metagenomic, informatics, and molecular biology support and guidance to other researchers and clinical collaborators engaging in these areas of study.