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Resource of the Month 

Each month we're going to use this space to highlight a particular resource on microBEnet. For our inaugural resource we're going to point everyone (again) to our reference collection on Mendeley. Currently consisting of 572 publications, this collection is manually curated and tagged. For the best use of this collection, we recommend using Mendeley Desktop and have created instructional videos on its use here .


MicroBEnet Blogs


Each issue we're going to give a brief summary of the topics discussed in our blog over the last month. Be sure to check it out here.


Since the middle of August some of the hot topics have been Legionella outbreaks in two cities, and office bacteria.   We've also talked about the NIH outbreak of Klebsiella, biosensors, space microbes, a whisky fungus, reusable shopping bags, biowalls and contagion networks in airports. Lastly, we've highlighted upcoming talks relevant to the microbiology of the built environment and talked about how to find an open access journal for publications.


Here are some of our most recent blogs: 


People Behind the Science
People Behind the Science


Excerpts from an interview with Jason Stajich from UC Riverside.

Complete video interview can be seen here.  



Question: How did you become interested in microbiology of the built environment?


Jason: I got interested because I was approached by some folks that were working in this area. In part the Sloan Foundation was interested in helping to develop a data coordinating center for the data that will be generated through analysis and sequencing of the micro biome of the built environment. I was introduced that way and I have been very interested to learn more about the questions that people are asking in this field.


Question: Can you tell us a bit about the current projects you are working on?


Jason: Our aspects are focusing on the data-coordinating center focusing on fungi. Our lab studies fungi primarily and we are trying the help build better tools and better interfaces for researches to be able to analyze their sequences of the micro biome of the built environment. We are hoping that these tools will be very useful for researches who aren't experts in this type of analysis.


Question:  What is your favorite aspect or approach of studying the built environment?


Jason: I think my favorite aspect is learning more about what actually lives inside buildings in the sense that we don't really have a good inventory of that yet. So understanding the dynamics of the organisms that are living inside, how they cycle or turnover, as well as understanding what's the difference between a building that is healthy where people aren't getting sick and buildings where we do have people that are coming down with illnesses. So trying to peel away the layers of that has been really quite interesting to me.


Question: What's one big question right now in the microbiology of the built environment community?


Jason: I think one of the challenges is that we don't have a lot of the tools yet to be able to analyze the fungi that are as well developed as the bacterial tools. So I think one of the big challenges is being able to make the databases more useful for studying and identifying those organisms. And in part that is to help us understand, as I said before, the difference between a building where people are sick, and buildings where people are healthy.  Maybe we can understand what the organisms that are there naturally or organisms that are introduced through different human activities and how those impact the health of the occupants. So, I think that's the big questions that we would like to understand better. You can certainly go into a building and smell mold and realize that there is something wrong. But do we really understand what are the organisms that are contributing to that?



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Featured Articles


Ecology of Disease -
Are they ignoring
the great indoors? 
by Hal Lavin
An article in the Sunday NYT on the Ecology of Disease - paints with a very broad brush that ignores the role of the microbiology of the built (and especially the indoor)
environment, where we spend most of our time and most likely acquire most of our diseases. What the article ignores underscores the importance of the Sloan Foundation's program on the indoor environment.


 Very interesting story
"Destination - not the flight - more likely to make you sick"
by Jonathan Eisen

Very very interesting article in the Globe and Mail by Alex Hutchinson: Destination - not the flight - more likely to make you sick, study says - The Globe and Mail. The article discusses the issue of people (well, mostly athletes) getting sick when they travel. What is fascinating is that a few lines of evidence indicate the illnesses are dependent largely on the destination traveled to and NOT time in an airplane. Thus the risk of getting sick from plane trips (which is a real risk) is apparently much much less than the risk of traveling to a new place. Not that planes are off the hook completely but this is definitely worth paying attention to when one thinks about studies of microbes in airplanes ..


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