Role of the IHMC

The role of the IHMC is to coordinate the activities and policies of the international groups studying the human microbiome, to promote the generation of a robust data resource that is freely available to the scientific community and can be analyzed across many groups. The IHMC ensures that large-scale, genomic analysis projects accelerate progress in human microbiome research and contribute to development of a robust data set that advances future studies of the human microbiome in health and disease by scientists around the world. The IHMC also facilitates the adoption of informed consent and recruitment standards, quality standards and data deposition and release policies that will make high quality data available to the entire research community as rapidly as possible.  Other functions of the IHMC include the coordination of research efforts to address the interests and priorities of individual participants, funding agencies and nations while minimizing unnecessary redundancy in human microbiome research.

Proposed organisation

The primary working organizations within the IHMC will be a Steering Committee (SC) and a Funders Committee (FC). 

The SC will be comprised of representatives of each of the participating funding agencies and/or organizations and the Principal Investigators leading projects in the IHMC. The Steering Committee will vote on issues if a consensus cannot be reached in an IHMC discussion. Each funding agency will have at least one member and at least one PI from its research project on the SC, with large, multi PI consortia having more than one as agreed on by the Funders Committee (FC). The FC membership will be made up of one representative from each funding agency.  Additional members of the funding agencies and the research projects will participate in the face to face Steering Committee meetings and on conference calls. The SC will subsequently review applications for membership in the IHMC to decide if they meet the agreed-upon criteria.

Working groups of the SC may be formed to carry out more in-depth analyses of issues/policies that arise in the course of the human microbiome projects. These working groups will be made up of experts in the technologies, scientific issues, or policies under discussion, and will not have to be participants in a project included under the auspices of the IHMC. 

Initially, an interim SC (iSC) was formed. The iSC was composed of funders from Australia (CSIRO), Canada (CIHR, Genome Canada), China (MOST), the European Union (European Commission), Singapore and the United States (the NIH), along with the investigators nominated by each of those funders. Drs. Jane Peterson (NIH) and Christian Desaintes (EC) served as interim co- chairs of the iSC in 2008.

The Steering Committee was co-chaired by : S. Dusko Ehrlich (INRA) and Christian Desaintes (EC), Jane Peterson from National Human Genome Research Institute (USA) and George Weinstock from Washington University (USA), Prof. Bhagi Singh from University of Western Ontario and Prof. Michael Surette from University of Calgary, S. Dusko Ehrlich (INRA) and Patrik Kolar (European Commission), and Prof. Li and Dr. Shenyan (China), who are present co-chair.