High-throughput nucleic-acid-sequencing platforms have revolutionized clinical and laboratory-based studies of microbial infection and inflammation. Sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes to characterize the intestinal microbiota and deep sequencing of microbial DNA to characterize the human microbiome have uncovered correlations between commensal microbial populations and diseases such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity.

Associations between microbes and the development or progression of cancer are numerous and widely acknowledged, but the full extent of the relationship is still largely undefined.

The Lucille Castori Center for Microbes, Inflammation, and Cancer (CMIC) developed the Molecular Microbiology Core Facility to provide Memorial Sloan Kettering investigators with high-throughput sequencing approaches to discover microbial associations with cancer and to investigate infectious diseases in cancer patients.

Our investigators have worked with Agnès Viale of the Genomics Core Laboratory and Nicholas Socci of the Computational Biology Center to lay the groundwork for deep sequence analysis of complex microbial populations colonizing the human intestine. The Molecular Microbiology Core Facility isolates and amplifies microbial DNA from experimental and clinical samples. We use the Roche 454 platform to sequence microbial DNA and provide computational support for the analysis of sequence data, including alignment of sequences and approaches to compare complex microbial populations in different clinical or experimental samples. Our technical staff assists investigators in identifying and characterizing bacterial, fungal, and viral sequences in clinical material. The Molecular Microbiology Core Facility is closely integrated with the Genomics and Computational Biology Core Facilities of the Sloan Kettering Institute.

The CMIC is working with the Sloan Kettering Institute administration to recruit new faculty members who are investigating microbial causes of cancer, cancers associated with chronic inflammation, and the potential association of complex microbial populations with the development of cancer.

An important goal of the CMIC is to increase expertise in computational and bioinformatic approaches to characterize shifts and changes in the complex microbial populations that contact mucosal surfaces.