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Grand Challenges: Microbiome Sciences

Grant Type: Impact Award
Topics: Global Health and Climate Change
Colleges Represented: CMNS, AGNR, ENGR

Grand Challenges Grants Program


Complex microbial communities (known as microbiomes) inhabit virtually every part of our planet—from ocean depths to mountaintops, across vegetation surfaces, within agricultural soil, and both on and within all living creatures. The Microbiome Sciences initiative joins faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students from across the University of Maryland in pursuit of a deeper understanding of complex microbial communities, and how those microbiomes interact with each other and with our ecosystem.

The initiative will conduct transformative research, develop new technologies, advance microbiome science, and translate microbiome science into innovative interventions and economic growth. Its three-part mission includes:

  1. Advancing cutting-edge and transformative interdisciplinary research in microbiome sciences.
  2. Training future generations of scientists and helping develop a regional workforce with strong expertise in microbiome sciences.
  3. Supporting the development of a regional innovation ecosystem that contributes to economic growth in microbiome-related industries within Maryland.

University of Maryland Microbiome Initiative      University of Maryland Microbiome Initiative

Team Members:

PI: Mihai Pop (CMNS), Professor and Director, Institute for Advanced Computer Studies

Mostafa Ghanem (AGNR), Assistant Professor, Veterinary Medicine

Birthe Kjellerup (ENGR), Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Shirley Micallef (AGNR), Associate Professor, Center for Food Safety and Security Systems

Brantley Hall (CMNS), Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics

William Bentley (ENGR), Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Professor, Director, Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices, and Director, Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute

Reza Ghodssi (ENGR), Professor, Herbert Rabin Distinguished Chair in Engineering

Katharina Maisel (ENGR), Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

Stephanie Yarwood (AGNR), Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Technology


The New Frontier of Microbiome Science: Computational Challenges and Solutions

April 12, 2024


June 26, 2023
Leadership Meeting
Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering
The Center held a leadership meeting on June 26, 2023 at the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering. This “microbiome meetup” included researchers from across campus and the National Microbiome Data Collaborative. (see photo).

Fall 2023
Un-Seminar Series
Glenn L. Martin Hall
The center hosts an ongoing “Un-Seminar Series” where preliminary research is presented at weekly meetings with the goal of spurring active conversations and creating new research collaborations.

January 16, 2024
Symposium on Microbiome Research at the Interface of Environment, Health, and Agriculture
Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering
Learn more and register
On January 16, 2024 the Center is hosting a Symposium on Microbiome Research at the Interface of Environment, Health, and Agriculture at the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering. This one-day symposium will bring together microbiome scientists from the University of Maryland and neighboring institutions with the goal of fostering dialogue across disciplinary boundaries. The program will feature oral and poster presentations as well as break-out sessions aimed at addressing current challenges in microbiome sciences and networking opportunities. Learn more and register.


Mid-Atlantic Microbiome Meet-up (M3) consortium

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