APR 12, 2017 01:30 PM PDT

Perspectives for Whole Cell Microbial Reference Materials

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  • Sequencing Director/Director of Operations, Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Micobiome Research (CMMR) at Baylor College of Medicine and Director of Operation of Diversigen
      Russ is the Sequencing Director for the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research (CMMR)at Baylor College of Medicine and Director of Operation for Diversigen, where he applies laboratory automation to metagenomic and microbiome sample processing for next generation DNA sequencing. The laboratory is CLIA/CAP accredited and offers regulated services to both academic and commercial collaborators. He is also one of the founding member of the International Metagenomics and Microbiome Standards Alliance (IMMSA) which was formed for the mutual benefit of the entire microbiome and metagenomics community and will focus specifically on coordinating cross-cutting efforts that address microbiome and metagenomic measurement challenges.


    With the exception of the Microbiome Quality Control (MBQC), very little has been published on best practices and reference standards for microbiome and metagenomic studies. As evidenced by recent publication trends, researchers are moving the field toward commercial development at a rapid pace.  If these analyses are to ever evolve into reliable assays (e.g. for clinical diagnostics), the measurement process must be regularly assessed to ensure measurement quality.  A key aspect of this validation is the routine analysis of reference materials as positive controls. A reference material (RM) is any stable, abundant, and well characterized specimen that is used to assess the quantitative and/or qualitative validity of a measurement process. The focus will be on the use of whole cell microbial reference materials to characterize metagenomic analyses from start to finish.  We’ll discuss 3 key categories (environmental samples, in vitro models for microbial ecosystems, pure microbial isolates) of reference standards and the challenges in characterizing those standards.

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