Jeff Kline presented BioBE’s project, “The Impact of Weatherization on Microbial Ecology and Human Health” at EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Indoor Air & Climate Change Progress Review Meeting and Webinar. The meeting was held in December in Washington, D.C. The presentations will be made available on the meeting website.
(This post was written by Roo Vandegrift, at the University of Oregon)
I was recently asked to spearhead the writing of a review centered around the interaction between the concept ofhygiene and our increasingly nuanced understanding of the human skin microbiome for the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center at the University of Oregon.
This review began with an invitation from Dyson to conduct an impartial review of hand drying studies, which have been mired in competing interests and faulty methods. We saw an opportunity to not only provide an unbiased review of the literature, but also to ask a more fundamental question: how should hygiene be defined in light of our evolving perspective of the human and indoor microbiome? We delivered a brief summary to Dyson (here) and then built upon that work to develop this question.
As we started digging into the body of literature on hand hygiene, two things struck us as peculiar: the first was that in the hundreds of studies explicitly examining hygiene, the concept was never explicitly defined; the second was that there seemed to be a clear division between skin microbiological investigations coming from clinically and ecologically informed perspectives, with clinical research generally relying on older cultivation-dependent techniques. These two issues became the drivers for our review, and our goal was to provide an explicit definition of hygiene that would help to bridge the gap between the clinical skin microbiology literature and the newer human-associated microbial ecology literature. We were then able to use the body of literature on hand drying as a case-study to examine the implications of using a microbial ecology-based approach to defining hygiene.
Jessica Green and Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg are quoted in an architecture article wrote by Mark Wilson and published in the Fast Company Magazine called: “The City of Tomorrow is A Petri Dish- By Design”. Read the complete piece here.
The BioBE Center just published a white paper, titled “Hand Hygiene in the 21st Century: Cleanliness in Context” that examines the history and current literature on hygiene. Specifically, the paper focuses on the role of hand drying and the debate in the literature surrounding paper towels and electric hand dryers. We posit that the conception of hygiene as a unilateral reduction or removal of microorganisms has outlived its usefulness, and propose a definition that is quantitative, uses modern molecular biology tools, and is focused on disease reduction. 20170102_BioBE_Hygiene_Dyson_summary
Edit 2017.01.11: updated white paper to reflect most recent version, added image.
The BioBE Center and several other labs funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are featured in this article by Melissa Pandika in Ozy Magazine. The author interviewed Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, Gwynne Mhuireach, and Jeff Kline of the Center.
BioBE members Jessica Green and Erica Hartmann contributed to a study looking at the microbiome of the Boston transit system, the MBTA. The paper, published in mSystems is out here. The first author on the paper, Tiffany Hsu, also wrote a post on microBEnet.
Erica Hartmann also travelled to Shanghai, China, to represent the Boston subway study team at the second annual Metagenomics & Metadesign of Subways and Urban Biomes (MetaSUB) meeting. Researchers from around the world participated in the first ever world sampling day to collect microbes in subways and shared their experience and progress at this meeting. For more information, check out the project website.
Jessica Green and other 10 fellow microbiome scientists have published an article titled “Toward a Predictive Understanding of Earth’s Microbiomes to Address 21st Century Challenges” in the journal mBio. Read this article here.
The American Academy of Microbiology has published a FAQ report on the microbiology of the built environment colloquium convened in September 2015. The report is “based on the deliberations of experts who gathered for a full day to discuss a series of questions developed by the steering committee regarding the role of complex microbial ecosystems found in built environments.” The BioBE Center was represented during the event by Jeff Kline.
This Friday we’ll be hosting an edit-a-thon to help spread knowledge related to microbiome science through Wikipedia. Come join us on campus or remotely! For more information, check out the meetup page here.