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Coordinating and supporting research on the human microbiome in Europe and beyond


Proposals should aim for synergistic collaboration and agreement across various research and innovation programmes on the human microbiome, in Europe and worldwide, dealing with sample collection, processing, standardisation and healthy states references at different sites of the human body (not only one organ), including also interaction with omics, impact of drugs, nutritional and environmental aspects as well as sex and gender differences. In particular, they should support the agreement of concrete references of healthy human metagenomes across various different populations. Proposals should map the progress and the state of play for specific disease and health issues as well as the success and meaningfulness in different countries. They should propose concrete and strategic research actions on the human microbiome addressing gaps, emerging fields and political priorities. They should complement, support and enhance cooperation in similar activities within Europe and beyond[[Proposals should take into account other relevant European and international research and networking initiatives as well as “one health initiatives”.]]. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged with relevant partners from outside the EU. Proposals should cover the whole spectrum of human microbiome research from patient data collection all the way to study reporting in publications, social, ethical and legal aspects. Proposals should avoid networking without output and provide appropriate indicators to measure its progress and impact.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 1.5 and EUR 2 Million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Integration and application of metagenomics data from the human microbiome has shown large potential for personalised medicine approaches, although causal relationships and confounders are still largely unknown. Comparable information and details about microbiome composition and functionality in healthy citizen and patients are very valuable to complete the picture i.e. to better understand the healthy microbiome and to predict its development.

The number of European and international projects and initiatives is increasing but their results and data cannot be properly compared as they have different underlying methods, standards and operating procedures. The International Human Microbiome Consortium (IHMC) as well as other current initiatives aim to strengthen international cooperation, to increase data comparability and to agree common standards, procedures and methods. There is a need to avoid having the same research carried out multiple times at different places and to better agree at European and at international level. This collaboration should increase coherence and data comparability to better exploit existing microbiome data and clinical information in a standardised way.

  • International agreement on concrete methods, standards, procedures and in vivo models. Harmonisation and increased comparability of metagenomics, metabolomics and human microbiome data in Europe and beyond.
  • International agreement on definitive references of healthy human metagenomes. These references should apply across various different populations and allow end-users and citizens to see which microbiome is clinically healthy.
  • More meaningful results through collaborative synergistic collection of microbiome data from different directions. Improved coherence and reduction of overlap between national, EU and other funding in the area of human microbiome research, thus ensuring an efficient use of the available human and financial resources.
  • Knowledge exchange and enhanced engagement of citizens, scientists and political stakeholders for priority health risks. Validated results will be delivered faster to people.
  • Integration of metagenomics and human microbiome references into other multilateral co-operation areas or personalised medicine approaches.