What is PreMiEr?

The Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Precision Microbiome Engineering (PreMiEr) studies and improves the microbiomes of the built environment.

It is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded collaboration between Duke University, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T), North Carolina State University (NCSU), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC).

What is a microbiome?

Microbiomes are the (mostly) unseen communities of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms that inhabit a specific environment.

Almost everywhere on Earth hosts a microbiome. Soils, oceans, air, buildings, and even your own body have different and complex microbiomes, and each can be unique!

What is the "built environment?"

The built environment refers to any space built by humans, generally what we refer to as “indoors.”

These spaces include your home, place of work, vehicle, hospital, and shopping mall. The average person can spend up to 90% of their life within built environments.

Why should we care about microbiomes of the built environment?

We are all too aware that some microbes can make us sick, and many of those can be picked up through contact with our immediate environment.

One mission of PreMiEr is to learn how to prevent harmful or pathogenic microbes from surviving in the built environment and help make our time spent indoors safer.

Can a building microbiome be "healthy?"

Recent advances in both materials and design have helped to improve the health of buildings and the people in them.

In PreMiEr, we are also attempting to learn if the presence of specific microbes can also lead to healthier indoor spaces.

Our researchers and partners may one day design buildings to promote the growth of those helpful microorganisms, all while educating a new and diverse generation of engineers.

“This center touches on the struggles any parent or caregiver undergoes because they want to make the best decisions about what their loved ones are exposed to, but that’s a really difficult thing to do because we don’t yet know what a healthy microbiome might look like in the places we spend most of our time. Our goal is to start to fill those data gaps and lay the foundation for researchers to dig into these important questions.”

Dr. Claudia Gunsch

Director, PreMiEr

PreMiEr’s vision is to develop an integrated framework that enables the bioinformed design of smart and healthy built environments while also broadly advancing microbiome engineering technologies.

Watch our video to learn more.

John Rawls and Mark Wiesner

Faculty Spotlight

Two Duke University PreMiEr Faculty, Dr. John Rawls (left) and Dr. Mark Wiesner (right) were named on a list of the most highly cited researchers in science, placing among the top 1% for number of citations according to Clarivate and Web of Science.

Press release

Direct link

Jennifer Kuzma

PreMiEr Research Spotlight

PreMiEr Associate Director and Professor at North Carolina State University, Dr. Jennifer Kuzma, recently published a manuscript on the role of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in biotechnology.

Original manuscript

Benjamin Callahan

Awards

PreMiEr Researcher and Professor at North Carolina State University, Dr. Benjamin Callahan was awarded the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbiome Data Prize for significant contributions to microbiome science.

News story

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