Public Release: 

Microbiology of the Built Environment (MoBE) symposium highlights growing field

Leading researchers, community members and the public discuss implications of microbes within the built environment for human health, healthy built environments, safe drinking water and urban design.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

(Washington) - A Washington, D.C. symposium highlighting research in an expanding field of science - the Microbiology of the Built Environment (MoBE) - is bringing together leading scientists from around the globe. Co-hosted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, this event features the current state-of-the-science about the formation and function of microbial communities in built environments, their impacts on human health, and how human occupants shape complex indoor microbiomes.

The MoBE symposium is open to the public via a live webcast October 10, 2017 from 5:30-6:00 pm, October 11 and 12, 2017 (9:00 am-5:00 pm) at

For the latest news in the MoBE field visit

"The symposium features the latest scientific findings that help us understand the microbes in the environments built by humans," said Paula J. Olsiewski, program director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "These environments play a role in human health which we are only now beginning to understand."

Keynote addresses include journalist Ed Yong of The Atlantic presenting "A Science Writer's View of the MoBE Field," Susan Lynch of the University of California San Francisco discussing "Chronic Inflammatory Disease and the Built Environment," and Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech addressing "MoBE, Public Health and the Flint Water Crisis".

In addition, Joan Bennett (Rutgers University) will discuss the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report (released today), "Microbiomes of the Built Environment:

A Research Agenda for Indoor Microbiology, Human Health, and Buildings (2017)."

See the MoBE symposium's complete agenda. Discussion topics include:

  • Designing healthier spaces and buildings

  • A city view: ATM's, parasites and wastewater

  • Bacteria in Norwegian kindergartens: Small children and their microbial environments

  • Microbiomes of military cargo aircraft and their connection to biocorrosion

A thematic issue of the academic journal Microbiome (October 2017) has published a new collection of articles dedicated to the microbiome of the built environment, entitled:

The Microbiome of the Built Environment (MoBE) 2017: Research to Application which highlights the latest in MoBE research including: "Preparing for the crewed Mars journey: microbiota dynamics in the confined Mars500 habitat during simulated Mars flight and landing" (Schwendner et al. 2017).


About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr. The Foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics. This symposium is supported through the Foundation's Microbiology of the Built Environment program, which aims to grow the new scientific field devoted to the study of the microbiology of the spaces in which we live, work, and play.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit

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