History of the Duke Microbiome Center

In 2012, the Duke University School of Medicine established the Duke Center for Genomics of Microbial Systems (GeMS) to address the increasingly prominent role that genome sciences were playing in shaping research in microbial systems.  GeMS drew upon existing strengths at Duke University in microbial ecology, evolution, host-microbe interaction, and systems biology to create a unit that fostered interactions and promote innovation in microbial sciences.  Expertise in GeMS focused on three areas – microbial evolution, experimental microbial genomics, and complex microbial communities (i.e., microbiome).  From 2012 to 2017, GeMS organized and supported a range of activities across the Duke campus including partnership recruitment of new faculty members, offering pilot grants, providing research support in microbial genomic analysis, organizing research-in-progress forums, and sponsoring symposia and seminar speakers.  Through these activities, GeMS succeeded in supporting and growing the community of researchers at Duke interested in genomic analysis of microbial systems, with GeMS faculty membership growing from an inaugural group of 14 faculty in 2012 to 36 faculty members in 2017.  This growth in GeMS faculty and corresponding increases in grant support occurred largely in one of GeMS’ three focus areas – the microbiome.  In order to build upon these successes and to take advantage of the growing scientific and public interest in microbiome science, the GeMS Center was recommissioned in 2017 as the new Duke Microbiome Center (DMC). With support from the Duke University School of Medicine, the DMC sustains the successful programs from the GeMS Center while expanding its scope to support new microbiome-related resources and programs across the Duke campus.



-John Rawls, Director