Clinical, Medical, & Public Health Microbiology
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has the capacity to provide crucial clinical benefits in patient care, patient outcomes, and public health, however, clinical laboratories must find ways to overcome operational, technical, regulatory, and strategic challenges in order to effectively employ NGS-based diagnostic tests. The Academy convened a colloquium on this topic in April 2015. Beyond the potential lifesaving impact of NGS methodologies, the report examines the main deterrents and shortcomings of the technology such as the data analysis and management pipelines, regulatory concerns and reimbursement issues, and the creation and maintenance of curated and secure databases. The report, titled Applications of Clinical Microbial Next-Generation Sequencing provides recommendations and suggestions for combating these current limitations to implementing NGS in clinical settings.
Bacteria and viruses are not always categorized as harmful microorganisms. In fact, these groups of microbes can be beneficial and can actively participate in many biological processes. With the perception of microorganisms being our partners, research is now being conducted to use microbes to treat disease and enhance human health. Some viruses and species of bacteria can be targeted to kill cancer cells while others can be deployed to replicate in and kill tumors. The Academy convened a colloquium in April 2014 in San Diego, CA to discuss the vast potential of microbes as supplements to existing therapies against infectious and chronic diseases. The product of those discussions was the full report, Harnessing the Power of Microbes as Therapeutics: Bugs as Drugs.
The human microbiome, the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, is not random, and scientists believe that it plays a role in many basic life processes. As science continues to explore and better understand the identities and activities of the microbial species comprising the human microbiome, microbiologists hope to draw connections between microbiome composition, host genetics, and human health. FAQ: Human Microbiome addresses this growing area of research.
Where does the virus come from? How is it spread? Can we predict when and where outbreaks will occur? What factors determine how sick a person will become if they are infected with West Nile virus?
To help answer the many questions people have about this multi-faceted virus, the American Academy of Microbiology has issued a new report entitled FAQ: West Nile Virus. The Academy convened twenty-two of the world’s leading experts on West Nile virus in March, 2013 to consider and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about West Nile virus. The resultant report provides non-technical, science-based answers to questions that people may have about the virus.
Where do new influenza viruses come from? How are they different from the influenza viruses that circulate every year? Why is vaccination so important? To help answer the many questions people have about this multi-faceted virus, the American Academy of Microbiology has issued a new report entitled FAQ: Influenza. The Academy convened twelve of the world’s leading experts on influenza in October, 2012 to consider and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about influenza. The resultant report provides non-technical, science-based answers to questions that people may have about the virus.
Concerned about antibiotic resistance? What if an insect pest becomes desensitized to the protective chemicals applied to crops? All kinds of living organisms have evolved mechanisms of resistance against the chemicals designed to control them – from bacteria, viruses, cancer cells to weeds. In the Academy of Microbiology’s newest, free report, explore the Darwinian principles underlying the evolution of resistance in these different biological communities and learn how experts in these fields have developed potentially discipline-spanning strategies of combatting them.
Non-microbiologists may assume that the goal of water utilities should be the elimination of all microbes from our drinking water. But the water we drink has never been sterile; perfectly safe water contains millions of non-pathogenic microbes in every glassful. Like every other human built environment, the entire water distribution system — every reservoir, every well, every pipe, and every faucet — is home to hundreds or thousands of species of bacteria, algae, invertebrates, and viruses, most of which are completely harmless to humans. In April, 2012, the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium to assess what is known about the microbial inhabitants of the water distribution system and to propose goals for advancing our understanding of these communities in order to enhance the safety of our drinking water and the resilience of our water infrastructure.
Because vaccines have been so successful at controlling diseases like smallpox and polio in the United States, we often take our relatively epidemic-free world for granted. But less than a lifetime ago, these diseases and others were still real threats to health. Despite vaccines’ successes, many people do not know how vaccines work, or that they are not just important for children, but adults too. On December 6th, 2011, the American Academy of Microbiology convened a panel of experts to help explain how vaccines protect us from disease and what vaccination options are available to adults. The report also provides insights into the history of vaccines, why they are so safe, and why adults need to stay up to date on vaccines - to protect their health, and the health of their loved ones.
Easy-to-use, inexpensive point-of-care tests (POCTs) to diagnose infectious diseases are urgently needed in resource-limited settings where laboratory capacity is limited. Development and implementation of new POCTs requires coordinated efforts among the scientists and engineers designing the tests and the health care workers deploying them. Recognizing the need to connect these groups, the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium in September 2011 to discuss how to develop POCTs that can be effectively integrated into resource limited settings. Based on that colloquium, this report identifies the POCTs that would make the biggest impact on health and the qualities they need to be effective in resource limited settings. The report also discusses systemic barriers to POCT deployment and recommends addressing these barriers in order to foster a more conducive environment for POCT development. The report is an example of the benefit of improved communication among the many groups that must work together to bring POCTs to the people that need them the most.
News headlines often paint E. coli as a vicious bacterium, capable of causing disease and death to those unfortunate enough to ingest it. But that is only a tiny minority of E. coli, and a very small part of the story of this remarkable bacterium; its relationship to human health and the food we eat is much more complex. Not all E. coli are bad - in fact most are not - and some are even beneficial. On September 1st 2011, the American Academy of Microbiology convened an expert panel of microbiologists, food safety experts, and bacteriologists to develop a more accurate picture of this often maligned bacterium. This report, the product of that meeting, tells the larger story of E. coli: its role in human health, in food, and even in our understanding of our own biology.