I imagine that everyone is aware, the microbiome has been and continues to be a “hot” topic. In the United States, the human microbiome project (HMP) launched in 2008 with millions of dollars of funding, and just recently there was an announcement from the White House for a call to action on microbiome research.
If you are reading this, you know that repertoires both determine our resistance to infection and are diagnostic of past exposures and current immune system problems. Personally, I would say that repertoires are at least as predictive and diagnostic as the microbiome. We aren’t yet at the point when we can easily make inferences of using repertoire sequences, but the microbiome folks are also just in the beginning phases of understanding how to connect the microbiome with health states (with a few notable exceptions).
So, how can we capture the imagination of the public? This image contains most of the elements that I think have made microbiome analysis so popular:
- This is from a citizen science project http://americangut.org/, in which you send your poo and they send you a report. A number of startups have done the same thing.
- Broad sampling and public sharing of data in an organized fashion. There were whole segments of the HMP that were dedicated to data organization.
- Easy visualizations. The principal component plot of microbial occurrence, while it has its limitations, gives a very nice “you are here” summary.
What sorts of analogies could we make with repertoire analysis? More generally, how can we get people excited about repertoires?