August 10, 2022 |
NC State University is part of a five-year, $26 million National Science Foundation center researching microbiome engineering.
The Engineering Research Center for Precision Microbiome Engineering, or PreMiEr, will develop diagnostic tools and engineering approaches to prevent harmful bacteria, fungi or viruses from colonizing while encouraging beneficial microorganisms.
The center focuses on “built environments,” or the structural environments in which humans live, work and play, like apartments, office buildings, stores and even cars. Little is known about the microorganisms that these environments sustain. Researching microbiomes — populations of these microorganisms — is the first step to understanding their effect on human health.
Researchers hope to discover what healthy biomes look like and how to promote them across various built environments. Researchers also aim to determine how to remove unwanted microbes from such environments.
NC State’s efforts will be led by Jennifer Kuzma, the Goodnight-NCGSK Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs and co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center. Kuzma will also co-lead PreMiEr’s societal, ethical and policy implications research.
The center is led by Duke University. Other partnering institutions are North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.