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Now the White House wants to encourage research into the microbiome: the microbes living in and on animals, the dirt, oceans and the atmosphere.Dozens of companies, foundations and universities have signed on to the National Microbiome Initiative, pledging millions of dollars to train new scientists, pay for new research and offering prizes for the best new ideas on how to understand how these bacteria, viruses, yeast and fungi function and how they can be put to work for humanity. Department of Agriculture plan that would be left up to the next president and Congress to make decisions about.But the private spending is ready to go sooner, supporters say.For instance, the Kavli Foundation is putting up $1 million to encourage researchers with new ideas for tools to use in studying microbes.”We can be more flexible, more nimble,” said Miyoung Chun, executive vice president of science programs at The Kavli Foundation.So called probiotic products are already on the market, but researchers are not sure which digestive bacteria are important for various aspects of health, and whether manipulating them even makes a difference.”We don’t really have a definition of what is healthy and that’s what we need,” Jo Handelsman of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said in opening a White House event introducing the initative Friday.”We’ll want to fix dysfunctional microbiomes or protect microbiomes,” Handelsman added. “We just don’t have the tools to do that.”And while farmers already make use of microscopic helpers for instance, planting legumes to “fix” nitrogen in the soil there are big gaps in understanding how to make crops even more productive by using nature’s living fertilizers.One problem: there aren’t even any tools for looking at these bugs as they work together to turn switchgrass into biofuel, extract vitamins from food or force out cancer causing bacterial invaders in the digestive system.”We need new tools to see these interactions as they happen,” said Jeff Miller, director of the California NanoSystems Institute, who is taking part in Friday’s White House event.Microscopes allow scientists to see tiny organisms out of context, but there’s no good way to watch, say, Lactobacillus interact with Candida in the oxygen free darkness of the human bowel.That’s why engineers as well as biologists and chemists are needed.

The punishment is far softer than the crime. There should be no men’s lax season at Tufts this year. Shame on Tufts. OCONOMOWOC Area School District (OASD) continues to investigate after some students and staff at Oconomowoc High School were treated for carbon monoxide like symptoms Thursday, March 23. As of Friday morning, officials saidmonitoring equipment not detect anything harmful. According to school officials, overnight the Environmental Management Consulting, Inc.

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