SIF162 Trans-University Microbiome Initiative (TUMI)

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

BoV Approved: Summer 2019

Project Dates: 10/01/2019 – 9/30/2024

Total Funding: $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 continued to make progress in key areas: (1) building infrastructure, (2) funding novel, successful microbiome research, and (3) hiring and maintaining microbiome experts and data scientists. TUMI has supported the purchase of equipment to evaluate microbial communities from the gut, nose, urine, blood, and nose. Lab spaces have been outfitted for shared use and these spaces have seen increased demand among clinicians without access to laboratories of their own. Carrie Cowardin, PhD (Pediatrics) continues to succeed in obtaining funding, while also partnering with other faculty through collaboration and education efforts. In addition to faculty, TUMI has recruited Dilza Silva, PhD (Metabolomics and Proteomics Expert) to UVA and maintained Brett Moreau, PhD (Bioinformatician and Data Scientist, promoted to Assistant Professor in Jan 2023) and Casandra Hoffman, PhD (Senior Research Program Manager) at a time when their services are in high demand in Biotech Industries. 

TUMI has funded 29 pilot projects, ranging from $10k to $100k awards, totaling $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 almost $6M in total costs (Cowardin R01, Lukens R21, Rutkowski R01, Thomas R21, Jenior (Papin) K99, Moore Industry). To date, TUMI has supported >40 investigators in their research efforts and connected with investigators from 7 departments outside of the School of Medicine. TUMI has facilitated 8 new collaborative projects and launched an annual, international, Microbiome, Metabolomics, and Data Science Course. TUMI served as an attractive resource at UVA for the “Center for Chemical Currencies of a Microbial Planet” NSF Science and Technology Center.

To date, TUMI has submitted seven proposals to fund TUMI Faculty, Data Scientists, Administrative Staff, and microbiome core facilities. These include a P50 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers in 2020, resubmitted in 2021; two U19 Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) Interdisciplinary Research Units in 2020; the Prominence to Preeminence (P2PE) STEM Initiative “3MINDS” Maternal Microbiome Metabolism and Infant Neurocognitive Development Study in 2021, U19 proposal that includes a Data Analysis Core to fund TUMI efforts (Petri, Cowardin, Moreau), and a P01 “Aging, Alzheimer’s disease and postoperative cognitive dysfunction” that hosts a microbiome core at UVA (Zuo-Gaultier-Hoffman). TUMI has connected with industry partners to secure a gift to support child-maternal microbiome research and is in the process of finalizing a Master Research Agreement to support long-term research collaborations between Perrigo and UVA investigators.