Dr. Amy Willis, assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Washington School of Public Health, has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop new statistical tools for the analysis of microbiome data.
The microbiome, which plays an important role in human health and disease, is generally characterized using high throughput genome sequencing. However, the laboratory processes required for microbial metagenomic sequencing can introduce bias into the results. Without correction, the magnitude of sample- and study-specific variation can easily exceed the magnitude of variation due to treatment or disease status.
“Statistical and computational tools like the ones we are developing improve the accuracy of microbial abundance measurements, and provide scientists studying the microbiome with more reliable information about what keeps a microbiome healthy,” Dr. Willis said. “If we cannot accurately profile microbial communities, we can’t understand how to prevent and treat infections and microbially-mediated diseases.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on October 11