Maui News

$10.4M Grant Helps UH Researchers Study Effects of Microbiomes on Human Health

February 27, 2019, 10:54 AM HST
* Updated February 27, 10:56 AM
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The National Institutes of Health Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence awarded researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa a $10.4 million grant to create an interactive center for environmental microbiomes and human health. According to the university, the center will be the first of its kind to focus research on the effects of environmental microbiomes on human health.

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Microbiomes are groups of tiny organisms that live on and in people, animals, soil, the ocean, and the atmosphere, according to the researchers. Through field sampling and experiments, the researchers will study the role of microbiomes in the current environmental decline and spread of human diseases. In addition to finding solutions to these issues, the researchers are aiming to use their findings to influence public health policy at the state level and beyond.

“We do our best to integrate our projects into the community,” Matthew Medeiros, one of the lead researchers of the project, said. Other researchers on the project include associate professors Kiana Frank, Floyd Reed, Joanne Yew, and Masato Yoshizawa. 

According to the university, the grant also includes outreach projects for the Native Hawaiian community.  Every manuscript from the grant will include a two to three minute-long video in both Hawaiian and English. The videos will explain research conclusions and what they mean for the Native Hawaiian community as well as other Pacific Islanders.

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“As a Native Hawaiian for me this grant is super exciting, because it totally aligns with my traditional ideals of management from mauka to makai, and assessing all the different layers of management and how that influences the whole system from microbes all the way up to people,” professor Kiana Frank said. 

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As a part of the research, Frank is evaluating how land use patterns and environmental factors influence the abundance and persistence of waterborne microbial threats to Hawaiian watersheds.

The five-year grant began in August and will end on July 31, 2023. More information on can be found online.

Assistant Professor Matthew Medeiros and doctoral student Priscilla Seabourn collect mosquitos. PC: University of Hawaiʻi.

Assistant Professor Kiana Frank and master’s student Joshua Buchanan in her laboratory. PC: University of Hawai’i.

Assistant Professor Matthew Medeiros is studying the microbes in mosquitos. PC: University of Hawai’i.

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