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Final Report: The Human Microbiome as a Multipurpose Biomarker

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Technical Report,01 Oct 2011,30 Jun 2015

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Harvard School of Public Health Boston United States

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The human microbiome comprises the communities of microbes carried in and on the body in health and disease, including trillions of bacteria, viruses, archaea, and fungi per individual. These microbiota, which defend us against pathogens and help digest our food, are personalized among individuals. The specific microbes present at any one habitat within an individual become relatively stable during the first several years of life, but change in as-yet-uncharacterized ways as a host is exposed to new environments, diets, locations, and social contacts. The microbial composition of a given individual might thus be linked to his genetic background or early life history, for example, while the metabolism of those microbes would reveal more about his recent medical history or diet. The goals of this project are thus 1 to assess the structure of any microbial habitat and its potential for identifiability including dietary history, medical history, biometric, demographics or environmental exposures and 2 to determine the relationships and interactions between the microbial communities within a host.

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