OpenBiome Announces Global Expansion

Press Release


CAMBRIDGE, MAOpenBiome announces the expansion of its mission to catalyze microbiome research on a global scale.


The pioneering biobank will radically increase scientists’ understanding of the microbiome by developing unique research tools and an inclusive platform that harnesses the diversity and therapeutic potential of the microbiome.


To meet its expanded mission, OpenBiome is assuming leadership of the Global Microbiome Conservancy (GMbC) and welcoming it as a flagship program. The GMbC—a nonprofit initiative founded by scientists Mathieu Groussin, PhD and Mathilde Poyet, PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—is dedicated to conserving and providing broad access to the global diversity of the human microbiome.


OpenBiome will scale the GMbC microbiome collection—already the most globally representative biobank of its kind—and make it available to researchers worldwide. 


The GMbC collection currently comprises samples donated by more than 1,000 individuals from underrepresented communities around the world, including hundreds of new strains with no known sister taxa and many bacteria that were previously considered unculturable. These research materials are critical for understanding how human health is affected by microbiomes across a wide range of diets, lifestyles, and environments, as well as ensuring that a wider range of communities will benefit from microbiome science.


“Building this collection is an exciting next step in leveraging OpenBiome’s unparalleled expertise in biobanking and microbiome science,” said Julie Barrett O’Brien, OpenBiome’s Chief Executive Officer. “We will have an outsized impact on public health by providing researchers with the microbes, data, and tools they need to make exciting new discoveries.”


Over the past decade, microbiome-based therapies have emerged as a transformative field of medicine. Under OpenBiome’s guidance, investigational fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has developed from a fringe medical practice to a recognized treatment option for antibiotic-resistant C. difficile infections and is being used in clinical trials to treat a wide range of indications including metabolic, neuropsychiatric, and autoimmune disorders. But much of this progress has been limited to urban communities in high-income, industrialized countries.


OpenBiome will help fill this critical gap by building research capacity in underrepresented and under-resourced regions, continuing the GMbC’s commitment to its research consortium. This global network of 80+ scientists, spanning more than 30 countries and headed by its academic leaders Groussin and Poyet, has contributed its expertise to build the GMbC program and collection. By providing training, tools, and connections, OpenBiome will grow the GMbC consortium and deepen exploration of the microbiome.


“Global representation is at the heart of a thriving microbiome research ecosystem,” said Katya Moniz, PhD, Director of the Global Microbiome Conservancy Program at OpenBiome. “We have a unique opportunity to accelerate science worldwide while supporting researchers in under-resourced contexts so that they can be at the forefront of this incredibly exciting and important field.” 

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About OpenBiome  OpenBiome accelerates bold discoveries in microbiome science to improve health for all. An independent nonprofit, we catalyze cutting edge research, advance treatment, and expand scientific capacity to unlock the full potential of the human microbiome.

Since our founding at MIT in 2012, we have provided investigational FMT treatments to more than 64,000 patients with recurrent C. difficile infections and supported over 40 studies investigating how the microbiome affects human health. Through OpenBiome’s new flagship program, the Global Microbiome Conservancy (GMbC), we are building and sharing the world’s most globally representative collection of microbiome samples and strains to fill critical gaps in microbiome science.

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About the Global Microbiome Conservancy
The Global Microbiome Conservancy (GMbC) is a flagship program at OpenBiome dedicated to conserving and providing access to the global diversity of the human microbiome ethically and equitably. The GMbC was founded in 2016 by scientists Mathieu Groussin, PhD and Mathilde Poyet, PhD in the laboratory of Professor Eric Alm at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with seed funding from the Center for Microbiome Informatics and Therapeutics and key support from Dr. Ramnik Xavier of the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Professors Groussin and Poyet now run a joint academic laboratory at Kiel University (Germany),and are the academic leaders of the international GMbC consortium. Groussin and Poyet are also co-chairs of the Scientific and Ethics Advisory Board (SEAB) of the GMbC program at OpenBiome. 

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