Overview of the Microbiome Among Nurses study (Micro-N) as an example of prospective characterization of the microbiome within cohort studies

Christine Everett, Chengchen Li, Jeremy E. Wilkinson, Long H. Nguyen, Lauren J. McIver, Kerry Ivey, Jacques Izard, Natalia Palacios, A. Heather Eliassen, Walter C. Willett, Alberto Ascherio, Qi Sun, Shelley S. Tworoger, Andrew T. Chan, Wendy S. Garrett, Curtis Huttenhower, Eric B. Rimm, Mingyang Song

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


A lack of prospective studies has been a major barrier for assessing the role of the microbiome in human health and disease on a population-wide scale. To address this significant knowledge gap, we have launched a large-scale collection targeting fecal and oral microbiome specimens from 20,000 women within the Nurses’ Health Study II cohort (the Microbiome Among Nurses study, or Micro-N). Leveraging the rich epidemiologic data that have been repeatedly collected from this cohort since 1989; the established biorepository of archived blood, urine, buccal cell, and tumor tissue specimens; the available genetic and biomarker data; the cohort’s ongoing follow-up; and the BIOM-Mass microbiome research platform, Micro-N furnishes unparalleled resources for future prospective studies to interrogate the interplay between host, environmental factors, and the microbiome in human health. These prospectively collected materials will provide much-needed evidence to infer causality in microbiome-associated outcomes, paving the way toward development of microbiota-targeted modulators, preventives, diagnostics and therapeutics. Here, we describe a generalizable, scalable and cost-effective platform used for stool and oral microbiome specimen and metadata collection in the Micro-N study as an example of how prospective studies of the microbiome may be carried out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2724-2731
Number of pages8
JournalNature protocols
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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