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The Hospital Microbiome Project: Bacteria Colonization Tracked by Supercomputers

November 25, 2012

The Hospital Microbiome Project will characterize the taxonomic composition of surface-, air-, water-, and human-associated microbial communities in two hospitals to monitor changes in community structure following the introduction of patients and hospital staff. The specific aim is to determine the influence of population demographics, how the demographic interfaces with a space, and the building materials used to create that space, on the community succession, and rate of colonization by potential pathogens. This will be performed in a newly constructed private US hospital in Chicago, and a US Army medical center in Germany.

Objectives

This proposed sampling design will test several hypotheses concerning the microbial interaction of multiple demographics with the hospital infrastructure and may lead to recommendations for best practice in reducing HAIs. Four hypotheses that will be tested are:

– Microbial community structure on hospital surfaces can be predicted by human demographics, physical conditions (e.g. humidity, temperature), and building materials for each location and time.
– A patient-room microbiota is influenced by the current patient and their duration of occupancy, and shows community succession with the introduction of a new occupant.
– The colonization of the surfaces and patients by potential pathogens is influenced by composition and diversity of the existing microbial community derived from previous occupants of the space.
– The rate of microbial succession is driven by demographic usage and building materials.

For more information visit Hospital Microbiome


Microbiologist Jack Gilbert swabs the floor of a hospital wing still under construction, looking for bacteria to study.

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