1. Szulecki, Diane Editor

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On this month's cover is an illustration of gastrointestinal microbiota. The gastrointestinal tract is just one of many body sites-including the nasal passages, skin, and reproductive tracts-that are home to the microbial communities that make up the human microbiome.

Figure. On this mont... - Click to enlarge in new window On this month's cover is an illustration of gastrointestinal microbiota. Image courtesy of Bard Medical Division.

In 2008, with the goal of better understanding the role of the microbiome in human health, the National Institutes of Health established the Human Microbiome Project to generate more data on the topic (which, until recently, was largely unstudied). In the project's first phase, researchers developed DNA sequence datasets and computational tools for characterizing the microbiome; now, in its second phase, called the Integrative Human Microbiome Project, or iHMP, the focus has shifted to investigating how the human microbiome may influence pregnancy and preterm birth, the onset of inflammatory bowel disease, and the onset of type 2 diabetes.


According to the iHMP website, "An ever-growing number of studies have demonstrated that changes in the composition of our microbiomes correlate with numerous disease states, raising the possibility that manipulation of these communities could be used to treat disease."


For insight on what's currently known about the relationship between the human microbiome and health-and implications for nursing practice-see this month's CE, "Health and the Human Microbiome: A Primer for Nurses."-Diane Szulecki, editor