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Promoting Responsible Scientific Research, August 2016

Data-Reproducibility cover

Reproducibility has long been a cornerstone of the scientific enterprise. In recent years, however, there has been growing concern over the lack of reproducibility of many published scientific studies. Systemic problems in the funding and culture of research likely contribute to the reproducibility crisis. Competition for scarce resources may pressure scientists to cut corners, introduce bias and, in extreme cases, falsify or manipulate data, resulting in published studies that cannot be reproduced. The Academy convened a colloquium in October 2015 to discuss the causes, outcomes and possible solutions to this reproducibility problem. The resulting recommendations provide actionable steps that can be taken to improve the reproducibility of published research. 


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FAQ: Microbiology of Built Environments, May 2016

Built-Report Cover-resize

Built environments are the structures that humans create to shelter from the outdoors and provide spaces for living, working, playing, and getting places. Along with humans, pets, pests, and house plants, built environments house a range of microbes. Preliminary studies indicate that indoor spaces have distinct microbial communities, influenced by building materials, ventilation and airflow, moisture, and human and animal activity. The Academy convened a colloquium on September 9, 2015 to examine the role of complex microbial ecosystems found in built environments, including their effects on building chemistry and human health. Studying the microbiology of built environments can change the ways we design, build, operate, occupy, and clean our indoor spaces.


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Applications of Clinical Microbial Next-Generation Sequencing, February 2016


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. 


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Harnessing the Power of Microbes as Therapeutics: Bugs as Drugs, March 2015


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.


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FAQ: The Threat of MRSA, March 2015


Disease-causing bacteria called pathogens can make us ill and if not treated and controlled, can lead to organ failure and even death. One such bacterial pathogen is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This organism is capable of causing a range of infections from skin and soft tissue infections to more life threatening illnesses such as pneumonia as well as bloodstream and surgical site infections. The acquisition of MRSA used to be retained to the hospital environment but now, this organism can be acquired from community settings. Proper hand hygiene can help reduce the risk for a MRSA infection in both hospitals and the community. The Academy convened a panel of experts in November 2013 to discuss the clinical significance of MRSA in hospitals, the community, and in livestock populations along with measures that can mitigate the risk of infection with this organism. Please read The Threat of MRSA, a report based on the deliberations of the participants that attended this colloquium.  


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FAQ: Microbes Make the Cheese, February 2015

Cheese Cover

Are you a cheese connoisseur or interested in knowing more about how cheeses are made? You might be surprised to know that the cheese varieties that we enjoy today are due to the diverse activities of the microorganisms used in the cheese-making process. The unique “eyes” in Swiss cheese is due to the metabolic processes of Propionibacterium freudenreichii and the blue streaks in blue cheeses are due to the mold, Penicillium roqueforti. To discuss the role of microorganisms in cheese production and how they generate the vast array of cheese textures, tastes, colors, and smells that we like in various culinary and snacking situations, the Academy convened a colloquium in June 2014 at ASM Headquarters that brought together scientists from food microbiology, microbial ecology, and the cheese-making industry.


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Viruses Throughout Life & Time: Friends, Foes, Change Agents, July 2014



In contrast to their negative reputation as disease causing agents, some viruses can perform crucial biological and evolutionary functions that help to shape the world we live in today, according to Viruses Throughout Life & Time: Friends, Foes, Change AgentsViruses Throughout Life & Time: Friends, Foes, Change Agents is based on the deliberation of a group of scientific experts who gathered for two days in San Francisco, CA in July 2013 to answer a series of questions regarding the variety of roles that viruses play in the natural world.


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Microbe-Powered Jobs: How Microbiologists Can Help Build the Bioeconomy, April 2014



Microbes can be highly efficient, versatile and sophisticated manufacturing tools, and have the potential to form the basis of a vibrant economic sector. In order to take full advantage of the opportunity microbial-based industry can offer, though, educators need to rethink how future microbiologists are trained, according to a report by the American Academy of Microbiology. The report, "Microbe-Powered Jobs: How Microbiologists Can Help Build the Bioeconomy," was based on a colloquium held by the American Academy of Microbiology in February 2013 in Dallas, Texas.


Teaching Materials

Microbe-Powered Jobs Infographic  

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FAQ: Human Microbiome, January 2014



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.


 Teaching Materials:

Human Microbiome Infographic
Human Microbiome Trifold

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How Microbes Can Help Feed the World, August 2013

 Feed the World

"How Microbes can Help Feed the World" looks in depth at the intimate relationship between microbes and agriculture including why plants need microbes, what types of microbes they need, how they interact and the scientific challenges posed by the current state of knowledge.  It then makes a series of recommendations, including greater investment in research, the taking on of one or more grand challenges such as characterization of the complete microbiome of one important crop plant, and the establishment of a formal process for moving scientific discoveries from the lab to the field.



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FAQ: Influenza, 2013


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.




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FAQ: West Nile Virus, 2013

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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.




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Moving Targets: Fighting the Evolution of Resistance in Infections, Pests, and Cancer, March 2013



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. 



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Microbes in Pipes: The Microbiology of the Water Distribution System, January 2013



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.



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FAQ: If the Yeast Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy: The Microbiology of Beer, 2013



What do microbes have to do with beer? Everything! Because the master ingredient in beer is yeast – a microbe – and every step in the brewing process helps the yeast do its job better. A new freely-available report; FAQ: If the yeast ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy: The Microbiology of Beer explores the synergy between microbiology and brewing beer. The American Academy of Microbiology brought together some of the world’s leading experts on yeast, brewing and food science to explain how making great beer depends on creating the perfect conditions for yeast to work its magic. Keeping the yeast happy, it turns out, is what will make or break your beer batch. This report is based on the deliberations of 18 participants who convened for a day to discuss the relationship between microbiology and beer brewing.



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Bringing the Lab to the Patient: Developing Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Resource Limited Settings, 2012



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.


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Incorporating Microbial Processes into Climate Models, 2012


Microbes are critical players in every geochemical cycle relevant to climate including carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and others. The sum total of microbial activity is enormous, but the net effect of microbial activities on the concentration of carbon dioxide and other climate-relevant gases is currently not known. In February of 2011, the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium to discuss how to integrate microbiological processes and climate models. Based on that colloquium, this report examines our current understanding of how microbes influence climate and identifies key biogeochemical processes, heavily influenced by microbes, which offer attractive starting points to begin collaborations between the two fields. The report also recommends changes to data collection and accessibility, improved incentives for interdisciplinary collaborations, and the development of new technologies as important steps. While the challenge of integrating microbes into climate models is great, one thing is certain, microbes are a force in climate change that cannot be ignored.

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FAQ: Adult Vaccines: A Grown Up Thing to Do, 2012



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.



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FAQ: E. Coli: Good, Bad, and Deadly, 2012



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.


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Microbial Evolution, 2011


It has been over 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin’s landmark book based on his observations of animals in the Galapagos Islands. The two core principles he described in his work, descent with modification and natural selection, have helped us understand life’s tremendous diversity. But how do these same principles pertain to the microbial world that Darwin could not see? In 2009 the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium in the Galapagos Islands to address this question. Based on that colloquium, this report summarizes the unique challenges posed by microbes, like vast evolutionary time scale, genetic promiscuity and rapid division, which complicate understanding microbial evolution. It also identifies areas of research and education where more information is needed to overcome these challenges. The report concludes that due to the power of microbes as model systems, tools in biotechnology, and drivers in biogeochemical and climate cycles, understanding microbial evolution may give us more than just the ability to understand microbial diversity; it will help understand the world around us.


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The Rare Biosphere, 2011



The microbial world represents the last truly unexplored frontier in the diversity of life on Earth. New environmental sampling technologies have revealed a wealth of rare microbial species in the soil, ocean, even our own bodies that were effectively cloaked from previous sampling methods by more abundant species. Dubbed the rare biosphere, these microbial species, while individually rare, collectively account for more than 75% of the biomass of some microbial communities, yet little is known about them. This rare biosphere represents a treasure trove of genetic novelty that may possess numerous unique bioprocesses and biomaterials. These rare species may play keystone roles in microbial communities and act as a reservoir of genetic diversity. But how can scientists effectively study the rare biosphere? In April 2009 the American Academy of Microbiology convened a colloquium to explore this question. Based on that colloquium, this report analyzes the current state of study of the rare biosphere and identifies where gaps in knowledge exist. The report concludes that the Herculean task of studying the rare biosphere requires an international collaborative effort and additional environmental sampling, coupled with a focus on advancing sequencing and data analysis technologies. With less than 1% of microbial species able to be grown in the laboratory, the prospects of new discoveries in the rare biosphere seem as vast as microbial diversity itself.


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FAQ: Microbes and Oil Spills, 2011



Is it true that microbes cleaned up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Can bacteria really “eat” oil, and if so, how? To help clear up the confusion the American Academy of Microbiology has brought together the nation’s leading experts to consider and answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding microbes and oil spills. This mini-colloquium, the first in a new series of reports designed to provide a rapid response to emerging issues, took place at ASM Headquarters in Washington, DC on October 28, 2010.



Teaching Materials

ASM Curriculum Guidelines Description

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Educating the Microbiologist of the Future: The Role of Summer Courses, 2011



In a rapidly evolving field, recruitment and education is critical, and microbiology is no exception. Intensive summer courses staffed by some of the most brilliant minds in microbiology, have proven to be a popular and effective way to hone early and mid-career microbiologist’s skills. The courses are particularly successful at equipping researchers for careers in emerging fields at the intersection of existing disciplines. Based on a colloquium held in January 2011, this report details the contribution of full immersion summer courses to the education of the microbiologists of the future. The report describes the broad and lasting impact of the current courses and defines common challenges that they all face. The recommendations in the report suggest ways to leverage the value and increase the impact of these courses, and propose developing a framework to allow course directors to communicate best practices and develop shared approaches to common challenges. The report affirms the value of these courses in developing the next generation of outstanding microbiologists.


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Global Food Safety: Keeping Food Safe from Farm to Table, 2010



“Global Food Safety: Keeping Food Safe from Farm to Table,” is based on a colloquium convened by the Academy in 2009. This report reviews the current state of affairs in microbiological food safety around the world. It is extremely challenging to know how many people are made sick by food, which foods are at fault, which pathogens are most widespread or dangerous, and where those pathogens entered the food production system. In such a situation, where should research, prevention and education efforts be directed? In this report, each step in our complicated food production and supply system is described, highlighting key points of vulnerability, and making it clear that providing safe food is a shared responsibility.



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Large-Scale Sequencing: The Future of Genomic Sciences?, 2009



Scientists can gain insights into new ways to use microorganisms in medicine and manufacturing through a coordinated large-scale effort to sequence the genomes of not just individual microorganisms but entire ecosystems, according to a new report from the American Academy of Microbiology that outlines recommendations for this massive effort. The report, “Large-Scale Sequencing: The Future of Genomic Sciences?” is based on a colloquium convened by the Academy in September 2008. The report outlines recommendations for large-scale microbial sequencing efforts directed toward cultivated isolates and single cells, as well as a community-scale approach to characterize a set of defined ecosystems of varying complexity.



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Antibiotic Resistance: An Ecological Perspective on an Old Problem, 2009


According to the report, it is possible to co-exist with resistance by- developing new strategies to prevent resistance from spreading and, where it already exists, identify the strains we need to protect against; find new ways to treat resistance infections effectively in patients; and manage reservoirs of antibiotic strains in the environment. The report summarizes the current scientific understanding of antibiotic resistance, the scope of the problem, and methods at our disposal for detecting emergence and preventing spread. The knowledge gaps about the prevalence of resistant strains and resistant infections are highlighted as are the unique problems and challenges in developing countries.




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Bioinformatics and Biodefense: Keys to Understanding Natural & Altered Pathogens, 2009


 Prepared by Merry Buckley, Thomas Slezak, and Thomas Brettin.


Bioinformatics, the application of computer analysis to molecular biology, is a fundamental corollary to biodefense research. As we face new security threats involving pathogens and infectious disease, bioinformatics databases must be improved and a plan must be made for integrating biodefense research throughout the world. This report outlines the recommendations made by the world's leaders in bioinformatics at a colloquium held in Baltimore.


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Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis: Infrequent Human Pathogen or Public Health Threat?, 2008


Prepared by Carol Nacy and Merry Buckley.

People with Crohn’s disease (CD) are seven-fold more likely to have in their gut tissues the bacterium that causes a digestive-tract disease in cattle called Johne’s disease. The role this bacterium may or may not play in causing CD is a top research priority. This report points out that the cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, and the possible role of this bacterium, which could conceivably be passed up the food chain to people, has received too little attention from the research community.




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The Fungal Kingdom: Diverse and Essential Roles in Earth's Ecosystem, 2008

Prepared by Arturo Casadevall, Joe Heitman, and Merry Buckley.

Fungi can cause a number of life-threatening diseases but they also are becoming increasingly useful to science and manufacturing every year. However, many people, scientists among them, are largely unaware of the roles fungi play in the world around us. Research on fungi and fungal diseases are seriously neglected as a result – a situation with grave negative repercussions for human health, agriculture, and the environment. The Fungal Kingdom explores the roles fungi play in the world around.




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Uncharted Microbial World: Microbes and Their Activities in the Environment, 2008


 Prepared by Caroline Harwood and Merry Buckley.

Humans live in the midst of a seething, breathing microbial world. Microorganisms populate every conceivable habitat, both familiar and exotic, from the surface of the human skin, to rainforest floors, to hydrothermal vents in the ocean floors. Despite the powerful and pervasive role of microbes in sustaining life, most of the microbial world remains a mystery. This is the subject of The Uncharted Microbial World: Microbes and Their Activities in the Environment.



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Clean Water: What is Acceptable Microbial Risk?, 2007


 Prepared by Mark Lechevallier and Merry Buckley

It is a familiar scenario experienced around the world: an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness suddenly emerges in a community, and no one knows where it came from or how to stop it. At the start of the outbreak, only a few people are affected, most often the very old and the very young. As the outbreak worsens, more and more people fall ill, and people who were weak or unwell may develop life-threatening complications. Such outbreaks sometimes originate from a source that most people in the United States and other developed countries trust unquestioningly: drinking water. This report examines the risks related to pathogens in the water supply and puts forth recommendations for areas of research, communication needs, and methods of microbial risk assessment.


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Reconciling Microbial Systematics and Genomics, 2007



Prepared by Merry Buckley and Richard J. Roberts

A new report, released by the American Academy of Microbiology, focuses on how until a decade ago, scientists categorized microorganisms almost exclusively by their physical characteristics: how they looked, what they ate, and the by-products they produced. With the advent of genomic sequencing and genetic analysis in the 1990s, our understanding of the relationships between different microorganisms fundamentally changed. In light of this new knowledge, what exactly is the definition of a microbial species, and how should microbiologists be categorizing microorganisms? These questions are the focus of this new report.


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Probiotic Microbes: The Scientific Basis, 2006



Prepared by Richard Walker and Merry Buckley.

This report details how beneficial microbes could represent the future of medicine, with the potential to treat a variety of diseases in humans and animals from diarrhea and eczema to gum disease and autoimmune disorders.



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Microbial Energy Conversion, 2006


Prepared by Merry Buckley and Judy Wall.

The report details one of the world’s largest problems – the need for clean, renewable sources of energy.




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Marine Microbial Diversity: The Key to Earth's Habitability, 2005



Prepared by Jennie Hunter-Cevera, David Karl, and Merry Buckley.

The report outlines how life on Earth may owe its existence to tiny microorganisms living in oceans, but the effect of human-induced change on the vital services these microbes perform for the planet remains largely unstudied.



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Research Opportunities in Food and Agriculture Microbiology, 2005



Prepared by Michael Doyle, Lee-Ann Jaykus, and Matthew Metz.

Details the ever-present threats to the food supply posed by disease, spoilage, and the specter of agro-terrorism, along with how the commitment to research in food and agricultural microbiology is on the decline.



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Preharvest Food Safety and Security, 2005


Prepared by Richard E. Isaacson, Mary Torrence, and Merry Buckley. 

Recent outbreaks of a number of foodborne illnesses have been linked to contamination occuring in the preharvest stage of food processing. The report also recommends creating an accessible international database of genetic sequences for known foodborne pathogens along with new and improved tools for detecting and cataloging pathogens on the farm.



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Microbial Triggers of Chronic Human Illness, 2005



Prepared by Kathryn M. Carbone, Ronald B. Luftig, and Merry Buckley.

Details how the increase aging populations in the United States and throughout the developed world, appears to correlate with a switch from acute infectious diseases to chronic diseases as the major cause of morbidity and mortality. The report also recommends new criteria be developed for evaluating the strength of association between microbes and chronic illness.



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Vaccine Development: Current Status and Future Needs, 2005


Prepared by James Kaper, Rino Rappuoli, and Merry Buckley.

This report outlines the challenges society needs to confront in order to combat plagues of the 21st Century, and provides recommendations to overcome obstacles that prevent the best use of existing vaccines.




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From Outside to Inside: Environmental Microorganisms as Human Pathogens, 2005



Prepared by Gerard A. Cangelosi, Nancy E. Freitag, and Merry R. Buckley.

While many infectious diseases are caused by human-to-human transmission, others are caused by microorganisms that exist in the outside environment. The difference between the two is the ability for environmental pathogens to survive and thrive outside the host. The report recommends that scientists from different fields work together to address the challenges presented by these environmental pathogens.



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An Experimental Approach to Genome Annotation, 2004


Prepared by Richard J. Roberts, Peter Karp, Simon Kasif, Stuart Linn, and Merry R. Buckley.

This report details the continued work in genome annotation that will likely lead to new applications and progress in healthcare, bio-defense, energy, the environment, and agriculture. The report also discusses the critical challenges and ways to accelerate progress in the field of genome annotation.



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The Global Genome Question: Microbes as the Key to Understanding Evolution and Ecology, 2004


Prepared by Merry R. Buckley.

Examines the current state of knowledge of microbial genomics, the technical challenges of using genomics in microbial systems, and the achievements that may now be possible by applying genomics to the study of microbiology. Makes recommendations for future directions in education and research.



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Microbiology in the 21st Century: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?, 2004



Prepared by Moselio Schaechter, Roberto Kolter and Merry Buckley.

This report details the central importance of microbes to life on earth, the direction microbiology research will take in the 21st Century and ways to foster public microbial literacy beginning at an elementary school level.




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Systems Microbiology: Beyond Microbial Genomics, 2004



Prepared by Merry Buckley. 

Details the power of applying a systems approach to the study of biology and to microbiology, specifics about current research efforts, technical limitations, database requirements, education needs, and communication issues that surround the field of systems microbiology.



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The Genomics of Disease-Causing Organism: Mapping a Strategy for Discovery and Defense, 2004


Prepared by Merry Buckley.

This report details the study of pathogenesis and how far we have come to having a complete understanding of pathogenesis and a phylogenetic framework for understanding the phenomenon.




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Microbial Forensics: A Scientific Assessment, 2003



Prepared by Paul Keim.

Surveys this new field and makes recommendations about how to move it forward.




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100 Years of Bacillus thuringiensis: A Critical Scientific Assessment, 2002



Prepared by Eugene Nester, Ph.D., Linda S. Thomashow, Ph.D., Matthew Metz, Ph.D., and Milton Gordon, Ph.D.

Presents the case of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and its use in agriculture. Compares genetic modification of crops to alternatives and addresses the current controversy, positive outcomes, and potential risks associated with transgenic plants. Makes specific recommendations for future research, evaluation and environmental monitoring, scientific coordination, and public education.


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The Role of Antibiotics in Agriculture, 2002


Prepared by Richard E. Isaacson, Ph.D., and Mary E. Torrence, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Addresses the complicated questions around the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Examines the current state of research on origins and reservoirs of resistance, transfer of resistance,and modulating resistance by altering usage. Makes recommendations for surveillance, risk assessment, prudent use guidelines, management and production practices, and education.



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Microbial Ecology and Genomics: A Crossroads of Opportunity, 2002



Prepared by David A. Stahl and James Tiedje.

Examines the explosion of new information in microbial biology made available by recent advances in molecular technology--and looks at the important questions that remain. Recommends next steps for the integration of genomics with microbial systematics, evolution, and ecology.


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Resolving the Global Burden of Gastrointestinal Illness: A Call to Action, 2002



Prepared by Pierre Payment and Merry S. Riley.

Looks at incidence, severity, and duration and discusses routes of transmission of gastrointestinal disease around the world. Recommends future directions for the clinical arena, research, education, disease prevention, and communication.



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Antimicrobial Resistance: An Ecological Perspective, 2002



Synthesizes conclusions reached by working groups at 1999 colloquium. Takes a broad view of the problem of increasing resistance to antimicrobials and its consequences for human, animal, and environmental health. Provides an overview of the current situation and offers specific recommendations for scientific research, surveillance programs, and education efforts.



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Microbial Communities: From Life Apart to Life Together, 2003

Prepared by Merry Buckley.

Discusses issues surrounding microbial communities and their role in human health, industrial processes, and ecological functions, with recommendations for future research, education, and collaboration.




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Reevaluation of Microbial Water Quality: Powerful New Tools for Detection and Risk Assessment, 2001


Prepared by Joan B. Rose, Ph.D., and D. Jay Grimes, Ph.D.

Evaluates current status of water quality, discusses new and emerging issues, and examines shortcomings of current practices. Outlines gene probes, genotyping, antibody, and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) techniques that stand to replace outdated testing methods. Makes specific recommendations for risk assessment, technology use, data collection, research collaboration, and evaluation and development of best practices.


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Bioterrorism Threats to Our Future, 2001 (Available online only)



Prepared by James W. Snyder and William Check.

The Academy joined with the American College of Microbiology to examine the central roles of professional microbiologists and clinicians in recognizing the occurrence of possible bioterrorism events. Issues of medical laboratory and practitioner training, emergency preparedness plans, public education, collaboration, and communication across health care and law enforcement agencies from the local to the federal level are discussed.


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Geobiology: Exploring the Interface Between the Biosphere and the Geosphere, 2001


Prepared by Kenneth Nealson, William A. Ghiorse, and Evelyn Strauss.

This report identifies possibilities and challenges facing the developing, interdisciplinary science of geobiology.



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Health, Climate and Infectious Disease: A Global Perspective, 2001


Prepared by Joan B. Rose, Anwar Huq, and Erin K. Lipp.

Takes a look at the combined advances in microbiology, meteorology, climatology, epidemiology, oceanography, ecology, medicine, and space science that are shedding light on the intricate connections between weather, oceans, and emerging and re-emerging diseases. Makes specific recommendations for future data collection, research collaboration, risk assessment, and the use of technology and molecular techniques.


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Microbial Genomes: Blueprints for Life, 2000



Prepared by David A. Relman, M.D., and Evelyn Strauss, Ph.D.

Details the enormous advances made possible through the genetic wealth and biological aptitude of microbes--and the new challenges arising from the advent of large-scale DNA sequencing. Discusses project selection and coordination, data management and analysis, training and education, funding, and ethics, and makes specific recommendations for future action.


The opinions expressed in this report are those solely of the colloquium participants and do not necessarily reflect the official position of our sponsors or the American Society for Microbiology.


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Food Safety: Current Status and Future Needs, 1999



Prepared by Stephanie Doores, Ph.D.

Analyzes new challenges affecting the safety of the food supply in the United States, charts directions for future research, and offers specific recommendations. Discusses factors that influence the incidence of foodborne disease, sampling and surveillance, risk assessment, and the food safety community.



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Climate, Infectious Disease and Health: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, 1998



Prepared by Rita R. Colwell, and Jonathan A. Patz.

Discusses research issues relating to the effects of climate on the incidence and distribution of infectious disease. Addresses specific infectious diseases and offers recommendations for future research.



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The Scientific Future of DNA for Immunization, 1997



Prepared by Harriet L. Robinson, Harold S. Ginsberg, Heather L. Davis, Stephen A. Johnston, and Margaret A. Liu. 

Provides in-depth analysis of relevant issues and outlines a strategy for funding and coordinating a massive research effort to increase knowledge about the mechanism of genetic immunizations and to identify potential applications.




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The Microbial World: Foundation of the Biosphere, 1997



Prepared by James T. Staley, Ph.D., Richard W. Castenholz, Ph.D., Rita R. Colwell, Ph.D., D.Sc., John G. Holt, Ph.D., Matthew D. Kane, Ph.D., Norman R. Pace, Ph.D., Abigail A. Salyers, Ph.D., and James M. Tiedje, Ph.D.

Addresses the urgent need for increasing knowledge of the diversity of microorganisms. Interdisciplinary perspective deals with basic research, the role of culture collections and databases, applications and expected benefits, and issues of education, training, and communication.


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A Global Decline in Microbiological Safety of Water: A Call for Action, 1995



Prepared by Timothy E. Ford, Ph.D., and Rita R. Colwell, Ph.D., D.Sc.

Discusses issues in identification of the current extent of waterborne disease outbreaks, the future threat of waterborne outbreaks, and epidemics (and potential pandemics) within both developed and developing countries. Provides a framework for addressing these water quality issues globally.


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Dynamic Issues in Scientific Integrity: Collaborative Research, 1995



Prepared by Francis L. Macrina, Ph.D.

Includes an in-depth analysis of the issues involved in collaborative scientific research and makes recommendations to educators, the broader microbiology community, policy makers, and the public.



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Scientific Foundations of Bioremediation: Current Status and Future Needs, 1992

Prepared by David T. Gibson and Gary S. Sayler.

Responds to the need for evaluation of the scientific underpinnings of bioremediation and the future needs of the science underlying the technology of bioremediation.




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