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What Will You Study in a Microbiome Program?

  • What do you and an ocean have in common? True, you’re both made up primarily of water. But there’s another common factor: You both have a complex microbiome.  

    What is a microbiome? The National Health Genome Research Institute defines the human microbiome as “the collective genomes of the microbes (composed of bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, protozoa and viruses) that live inside and on the human body.” The microbiome of the ocean, made up of such microorganisms, generates a significant portion of the oxygen we breathe. Your own microbiome is an ecosystem comprised of an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms. The thought of so many microorganisms living on and within you may be a little unnerving, but these tiny microbes can benefit humans in countless ways and play an immense role in our health and happiness. 

    Topics of Study in a Microbiome Program
    Below are some of the primary subjects you’ll study in a microbiome program, either as part of core or elective courses.  

    The Microbiome
    A microbiome program will, of course, define the microbiome in detail. In a course like this, you’ll learn about the diversity of organisms that can make up a biome and discover how to analyze and interpret genomic (the study of genomes, or the elements that make up an organism) data sets to evaluate various microbiomes. 

    Most people are familiar with this term because of the many products available aimed at improving digestive health. Probiotics, often made of good/beneficial bacteria and yeast, can help restore the balance of beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria in your body and reestablish good bacteria after the use of antibiotics. A course in probiotics will typically cover the use of microorganisms to prevent and/or treat disease in humans and animals. 

    Antimicrobial Resistance 
    Sometimes bacteria, viruses and other microbes within the body can adapt and become resistant to the medications used to treat them. Antimicrobial resistance necessitates the development of new drugs to fight diseases which were previously treatable. A course in this topic will examine the origins of antimicrobial resistance and the larger impact it creates on society and our environment. 

    Viruses spread within an organism by replicating themselves, which necessitates hijacking and using a host’s cells. Virology is a key topic of study for a microbiome program. Such courses will delve into the components of a virus, how replication occurs and how scientists can use viruses to combat disease. The virome, an ecosystem of viruses within our bodies, and its effects on us are another primary topic of study. 

    Immunology, the study of our immune system, is central to any microbiome program. A strong course will explore the fundamentals of immunology and how immunological research is applied in everyday life. 

    Bacterial Physiology
    What are the components that make up bacteria? This is discussed in a bacterial physiology course, which will often also include an exploration of how bacteria adapt in extreme environments. 

    UF’s Microbiome and Health Online Graduate Certificate Program
    The microbiome is growing as a field of studyand a more complex understanding of this biological specialty offers the potential to improve human health as well as the condition of our planet. In order to prevent and treat diseases, it’s crucial to understand the factors that contribute to them, and this pursuit has placed increasing focus on microbiome research. Major areas of ongoing research in the field of microbiome include disease onset and progression, health homeostasis and the therapeutic uses of the microbiome.  

    The University of Florida’s Microbiome and Health Online Graduate Certificate program can equip you with crucial, advanced knowledge that can help you excel in a career in this vital and expanding field. While completing this 12-credit graduate certificate program, you will develop skills that will help you understand key concepts in microbiome, advances in microbiome research and host/microbe interactions. In addition, you will build greater competency in modern technologies to study the microbiome and evaluation strategies, synthesizing important published research in the field and developing critical thinking and writing skills. 

    The Convenient, Flexible Way to Study the Microbiome
    Our Microbiome and Health Online Graduate Certificate program is presented entirely online in an asynchronous format, which allows you to complete your coursework on your own schedule, from any location in the world with internet access. If you have professional and personal commitments to attend to, as most UF students do, you’ll find this flexibility invaluable. You don’t have to choose between other important pursuits in your life and earning a career-enhancing education credential! With no GRE requirement, UF makes it easy to get started on your graduate career. You can even enroll one semester at a time, with no long-term obligation. 

    Build graduate-level microbiome expertise in UF’s Microbiome and Health Online Graduate Certificate program. 



    At a Glance