The gift will fund joint UCSF and Stanford initiatives aimed at advancing innovative therapies based on the microbiome — the aggregate of all microbiota that reside on or within human tissues and biofluids. A gift of $25 million to UCSF will launch and support a research partnership between the UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in Oakland and San Francisco focused on investigations of the microbiome early in human life and how it might be used to predict, prevent, and treat dermatological, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and neurological disorders linked to microbiome dysfunction as well as prevent childhood diseases. And a $10 million gift to Stanford will support the efforts of the Stanford Microbiome Therapies Initiative (MITI) to build and engineer microbial communities that can drive the development of new therapies. That initiative has received an additional $7 million from philanthropists Mark and Debra Leslie.
"We are at a watershed moment in human biology — our health rests not only on the proper functioning of human genes, but also on the genes and products of our microbiome," said Susan Lynch, who will lead the UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine. "At UCSF, we are leveraging this knowledge and our exceptional community of faculty across campus to identify those at risk of disease and to develop tailored microbiome interventions to promote health."
"The biggest opportunities and challenges in this area can be traced back to one thing: the microbiome has been impossible to study in a controlled way," said Stanford Microbiome Therapies Initiative director Michael Fischbach. "The discoveries that will stand the test of time, and will make a difference for patients, will come from building completely defined microbiomes and manipulating them precisely. The engineers and scientists in MITI are singularly focused on this goal and stand ready to invent any technology necessary to meet it."