Microbe Scientists Launching Expanded Microbiome Center

Shared technology and core facilities growing to meet demand

An image from Lawrence David's lab shows populations of different gut microbes changing over time.
An image from Lawrence David's lab shows populations of different gut microbes changing over time.

Microbial science at Duke is taking a major step forward with the launch of the Duke Microbiome Center (DMC), which is intended to address growing scientific interest in the roles microbial communities play in human health, the environment and biotechnology.

The new center expands on the mission of the five-year-old Duke Center for Genomics of Microbial Systems (GeMS) by going beyond genomic analysis of microorganisms.

“We’re going to ensure that Duke investigators have access to the essential technologies and resources to conduct high-impact and reproducible microbiome research, and allow Duke to work towards international prominence in the microbiome sciences,” said John Rawls, director of the new center and an associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology.

John Rawls Rawls said the new center is a response to the growing scientific attention being paid to the microbial world and the growth of Duke’s microbiome science community. 

Associate directors of the new center will be Lawrence David, Claudia Gunsch, and Anthony Sung.

Rawls said the center will include core facility services to support microbiome analysis in collaboration with the Center for Genomic and Computational Biology. There will also be a core for “gnotobiotic” mice, study animals which have no microbes on their inside or outside, in collaboration with the Division of Laboratory Resources.

Rawls said the new center would also be a focal point for convening and educating the growing community of microbiome investigators and their trainees.