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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mapping the Urban Genome

  • Microbes in the City

    Mapping the Urban Genome

    Keynote Speakers: Jo Handelsman (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy), W. Ian Lipkin (Columbia University), Curtis Huttenhower (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), and Coby Schal (North Carolina State University)Presented by New York University and the New York Academy of Sciences
    Reported by Alan Dove | Posted March 16, 2016


    At the New York Academy of Sciences, researchers often discuss microscopic natural phenomena in full view of a vast cityscape of towering skyscrapers. The meeting on June 19, 2015, blended these seemingly disparate worlds. The Microbes in the City: Mapping the Urban Genome symposium, sponsored by the Academy and New York University, featured a diverse group—microbiologists, entomologists, engineers, and architects—who came together to discuss the microbiomes of the human-built environment.
    The first session provided an overview of the burgeoning field of microbiomics, which uses high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques to study the huge population of unculturable microbes that previously eluded detection. These microbial ecosystems vary from person to person and place to place, and influence both normal human metabolism and disease pathogenesis.
    Two sessions on the urban metagenome—a term describing genetic material recovered from environmental samples—surveyed efforts to identify novel pathogens before they emerge in humans, to understand hospital-acquired infections, and to probe the distinctive microbial ecosystems of buildings, subways, and sewers. The final presentation covered the fascinating but under-studied microbiology of insect pests.
    The meeting closed with a panel discussion that covered the need for careful communication about research that may frighten the uninformed. The panelists also discussed the evolving regulatory framework for handling microbial data and microbiota-based products.
    Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.

    Presentations available from:
    Eric Alm, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    Jane Carlton, PhD (New York University)
    Jack Gilbert, PhD (Argonne National Laboratory)
    Jo Handelsman, PhD (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)
    Curtis Huttenhower, PhD (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
    W. Ian Lipkin, MD (Columbia University)
    Christopher Mason, PhD (Weill Cornell Medical College)
    Rachel Poretsky, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago)
    Moderator: Laurie Garrett (Council on Foreign Relations)

    This symposium was made possible with support from

    • New York University

    eBriefing Sponsor

    • Alfred P. Sloan Foundaton
    This eBriefing was made possible with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation via grant number G‐2015‐14187.

    How to cite this eBriefing

    The New York Academy of Sciences. Microbes in the City: Mapping the Urban GenomeAcademy eBriefings.2016. Available at:

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