The microbiome and a computational infrastructure for testing disease risk.

The Theoretical Biology Group of Nicholas Chia, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, takes a medical ecology approach for quantifying the influence of the microbiome on disease and disease risk. This involves constructing a framework to test in silico the production of toxic byproducts or digestion of important compounds by the microbiome. As part of this research, Dr. Chia's team has produced a computational infrastructure, allowing opportunities to scaffold inferences from multiomics data onto a constraint-based modeling platform for metabolic chemical reaction networks.

The goal is to create a solution that integrates flux balance analysis of an entire microbial ecology for assessing the biochemical mechanisms of cancer-causing agents from high-throughput metagenomics and metabolomics. This is an approach that should only get more powerful as these omics technologies become more and more accessible.