Center for the Study of IBD

The Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (CSIBD) is a multidisciplinary program to define fundamental mechanisms underlying Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and is sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

  Clinical/Tissue Core Announces New Focus in Microbiome Research

The CSIBD is pleased to announce the appointment of Curtis Huttenhower, PhD, a leader in human microbiome research, as Co-Director of the Clinical/Tissue Core.

A major goal of the Clinical/Tissue Core is the coordination of needs of the research center with the active program of patient care and clinical investigation at MGH and establishment of a reference source of well-characterized tissue, serum, RNA, and DNA that can serve as a resource for Center investigators. In 2012, we have added an exciting new area of investigation to the Clinical/Tissue Core. Curtis Huttenhower, PhD, a computational biologist and key member of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) Consortium, has been recruited as Co-Director of this core to increase the CSIBD’s expertise, resources, and involvement in microbiome studies. He brings particularly strong experience and tools in the areas of whole-genome shotgun analysis and metabolic reconstruction, as illustrated by the recent publication of his group’s HUMAnN (HMP Unified Metabolic Analysis Network) tool (Abubucker et al., PLoS Comput Biol, 2012). Over the past year, the importance of the human microbiome has been highlighted in both high-impact scientific journals and in the lay press, with the HMP being repeatedly compared to the Human Genome Project as a fundamental starting point for future studies of human health and disease. In June 2012 alone, the HMP published 14 papers appearing in Nature and PLoS journals, representing extraordinary recent progress in the field. CSIBD members Dirk Gevers and Curtis Huttenhower were key authors of one of the Nature papers, with Dr. Gevers serving as co-first author and Dr. Huttenhower as corresponding author. Building upon the Nature papers’ atlas of the healthy human microbiome, several CSIBD members (Drs. Dirk Gevers, Ramnik Xavier, and Curtis Huttenhower) served as key contributors to the first application of a human microbiome analysis to human disease; in this case, IBD (Morgan et al., Genome Biol, 2012). Reflecting Dr. Huttenhower’s appointment, the Clinical/Tissue Core will expand its interests and include a new focus on microbiome studies.

Dr. Dirk Gevers, a fellow expert in human microbiome research and analysis, has also joined the CSIBD as Assistant Director of the Clinical/Tissue Core (Broad Institute). Christine Stevens, Project Manager at the Broad Institute, has been named Manager of CSIBD Genetics and Microbiome Studies, taking on the role of improving access and coordinating logistics for members of the CSIBD community who wish to take advantage of state-of-the-art technologies offered at the Broad Institute.