Both the Unified Microbiome Initiative (Alivisatos et al., Science, 2015) and the National Microbiome Initiative have emphasized the need to move beyond sequencing to better understand the fundamental molecular and chemical mechanisms that shape microbial communities in host and environmental habitats. Understanding the chemistry of microbiomes has broad implications, including providing functional annotations for the vast “dark matter” of microbial genomes, insights into the chemical languages that link microbes to each other and to their habitat, and translational implications for precision medicine, environmental health, and sustainable living. This symposium will bring together scientists with innovative, paradigm-shifting research programs in chemistry, synthetic biology, genome editing and precision medicine who rarely interact to address common questions. The interdisciplinary collaborations that result will accelerate basic microbiome research as well as help understand the role of the microbiome in human health and disease. Specifically, this conference aims to: 1) Provide a platform for microbiome researchers to be acquainted with cutting-edge research actively performed at the interface of chemistry and biology; 2) Introduce and discuss new technological advances and methodological platforms that complement and accelerate microbiome research efforts in academia and industry; and 3) Provide an engaging atmosphere with open innovative discussion among both senior and junior scientists focused around the current successes of microbiome research, the limitations of today's approaches, and the future of chemical and biological microbiome research.
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