SIF162 Trans-University Microbiome Initiative (TUMI)

Project Manager: Sean R. Moore and William A. Petri

BoV Approved: Summer 2019

Project Dates: 10/01/2019 – 9/30/2022

Funding Awarded: $5,000,000

Executive Summary

The Trans-University Microbiome Initiative (TUMI) will bring together UVA students and faculty in microbiology, immunology, chemical engineering, nutrition, genomics, neuroscience, psychology, education, kinesiology, environmental science, endocrinology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, biomedical engineering, data science, and biocomplexity and support research into the microbiome. The microbiome is an essential component of human health and is key to our response to interventions, but there is still a lot to discover about how it works. The University's leadership in this area has attracted in over $100M from the National Institutes of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Current Status: Active


The TransUniversity Microbiome Initiative (TUMI) has made significant progress in key areas: (1) building infrastructure needed to perform cutting edge microbiome research, (2) funding novel, successful microbiome research, (3) hiring microbiome experts, data scientists, and technical expert staff to assist with microbiome research on Grounds. TUMI funds have supported the purchase of equipment to isolate DNA and evaluate microbial communities. Lab spaces have been outfitted for shared use and sample storage. TUMI has recruited Carrie Cowardin, PhD (Pediatrics), Gregory Carey-Medlock, PhD (Pediatrics), and Maureen Carey-Medlock, PhD (Division of Infectious Disease and International Health) to start research careers at UVA. In addition to faculty, TUMI has recruited Nishikant Wase, PhD (Metabolomics Expert), Brett Moreau, PhD (Bioinformatician and Data Scientist), Haritha Guttikonda (Data Scientist), and Casandra Hoffman, PhD (Senior Research Program Manager) to UVA. Reflecting the high demand for data scientists, three TUMI hires were recruited elsewhere; M. Carey-Medlock (Tempus Labs), G. Carey-Medlock (Vedanta Biosciences), and H. Guttikonda (Comscore, Inc).

TUMI has funded 29 pilot projects, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 awards, totalling $1,461,000 in funding. Five pilot awardees have secured external funding for complementary and/or follow-up studies directly linked to their pilot awards, totaling over $5,280,000 in total costs (Cowardin R01, Lukens R21, Rutkowski R01, Thomas R21, Jenior (Papin) K99). To date, TUMI has supported 40+ investigators in their research efforts and connected with investigators from 7 additional departments outside of the School of Medicine. TUMI has facilitated 6 new collaborative projects and launched an annual Microbiome, Metabolomics, and Data Science Course. TUMI served as an attractive resource at UVA in the selection of “Center for Chemical Currencies of a Microbial Planet” as a National Science Foundation, Science and Technology Center.

TUMI has submitted five proposals to fund TUMI Faculty, Data Scientists, Administrative Staff, and microbiome core facilities. These include P50 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers in 2020, resubmitted in 2021; two U19 Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) Interdisciplinary Research Units in 2020; and the Prominence to Preeminence (P2PE) STEM Initiative “3MINDS” Maternal Microbiome Metabolism and Infant Neurocognitive Development Study in 2021. TUMI (Petri-Cowardin) will submit a U19 proposal that includes a Data Analysis Core to fund TUMI efforts. TUMI has connected with industry partners and secured a gift from Perrigo to support child-maternal microbiome research on Grounds that will continue to reduce barriers to entry into the field.