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 building the laboratory infrastructure needed to perform cutting edge microbiome research at the University of Virginia. TUMI funds have supported the purchase of machinery and robotics to isolate DNA and next generation sequencers to evaluate microbial communities. A lab space has 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 as Assistant Professors 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) as microbiome experts at UVA. Reflecting the high demand for data scientists, two TUMI hires were recruited elsewhere; G. Carey-Medlock (Vedanta Biosciences) and Guttikonda (Comscore, Inc).

TUMI has funded a total of 23 pilot projects, ranging from $10,000 to $60,000 awards for 1 year, with$1,030,000 dispersed to support microbiome research on Grounds. Four pilot awardees have now been funded by the NIH to study complementary and/or follow-up studies, totaling over $5,280,000 in direct and indirect costs (Cowardin R01, Lukens R21, Rutkowski R01, Thomas R21). To date, TUMI has supported over 35 investigators in their microbiome research efforts and connected with investigators from 7 departments outside of the School of Medicine. We have facilitated 4 new collaborative projects between UVA investigators and launched a biannual 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 that would specifically 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) Targeted STEM Initiative “3MINDS” Maternal Microbiome Metabolism and Infant Neurocognitive Development Study. TUMI has connected with several industry partners and secured a gift from Perrigo to support microbiome research on Grounds that will be used to continue our efforts to reduce barriers to entry into the field.