The IHMC is open, at any time, to the funders and PIs of human microbiome research programs with the capacity to mount a comprehensive analysis of the human microbiome in health and/or disease and who agree to carry out their efforts in accordance with a set of commonly agreed-upon IHMC policies. These policies include the following:

  • Each consortium member will normally have been identified by their funders as a research group performing large scale, comprehensive analysis of the human microbiome and functioning as a Community Resource Project[1]. 
  • In those cases where individual research groups that have not been identified by their funder want to join the IHMC, their request will be subject to approval by the IHMC Steering Committee. They will initially be Adjunct Members and become full Members once they have demonstrated that they are abiding by the principles of the IHMC. 
  • Initially, funders without funded programs in place but anticipating to fund a program that will adhere to these principles in the next 18 month will be Observing Members of the Steering Committee without a vote until their research programs are funded. 

[1] A Community Resource Project, as defined in the Ft. Lauderdale agreement is a research project specifically devised and implemented to create a set of data, reagents or other material whose primary utility will be as a resource for the broad scientific community.


Membership criteria

Present members of the IHMC have agreed to the criteria summarised below, and any new member should agree as well. The policy is presented in more details in the following sections. It includes parts which are still under discussion and will updated as needed, after discussion and approval by the IHMC Steering Committee.

Data release

  1. Projects participating in the IHMC are Community Resource Projects, as defined by the Fort Lauderdale principles (see meeting report at 
  2. Members of the IHMC will agree to immediate release of verified (technically accurate) sequence data from isolated microorganisms and/or metagenomic data from samples taken from healthy and/or diseased individuals in an appropriate public database (see Data release section)

Intellectual Property

IHMC members will agree to discourage the filing of IP claims on pre-competitive, basic data of the type produced by a Community Resource Project.  For example, sequence or expression data from a bacterial metagenomic study is considered to be precompetitive but data from follow up studies of the functional role of the metagenomic bacterial community or individual bacteria in that community are not and it would be acceptable to file for appropriate findings.


There will be a publication moratorium of up to twelve months on all data.

  1. Though molecular data will be released as they are produced, the publication moratorium clock starts only when all molecular data have been generated (by which point the full set of clinical data will be deposited at a controlled access database).  More rapid ongoing release of clinical data is encouraged.
  2. A minimal set of clinical data will be released rapidly with the sequence traces to ensure that the data is useful to the research community using it.

See also the Publication policy section for more details on the issues addressed by the IHMC Steering Committee.

Quality assessment

  1. Members of the IHMC agree that a quality assessment program is needed to ensure that the data produced by the Consortium are of high quality.
  2. As well as defining minimal standards for the quality of IHMC data, the Steering Committee will discuss development of a quality assessment plan for the Consortium to ensure that data produced adhere consistently to these standards. 

 Standards for consent of participants

  1. Members of the IHMC agree that proper informed consent of sample donors, in accord with local, national and international ethical guidelines and norms, must be obtained for all IHMC projects in which samples are obtained from human volunteers.
  2. Members of the IHMC are willing to share their SOPs for donor recruitment and consent.  The Steering Committee will serve as a forum for discussion of any differences in consent and protocols.  A working group will be formed to discuss a process for how and where this information will be shared and posted.


Participants in the IHMC will obtain their own funding for data generation and specimen collection.