Joshua Lederberg (1925-2008) was a molecular biologist and visionary who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1958 for discovering bacterial conjugation. His work lead him to study bacteria in space, work in artificial intelligence, and research viral antibodies. During the course of his career, he coined the term microbiome, in reference to the "totality" of microbes, or the genetic makeup and interactions with their environment. One of his legacies is a little-known branch of biotechnology research that is the study of the human microbiome.
The Human Microbiome Project, supported by the NIH Common Fund, is a collaborative effort to characterize the various microbial communities found at different key area on the human body. The International Human Microbiome Consortium is an international team of working groups and committees dedicated to promoting human microbiome research and the sharing of data, in order to "understand the role of the human microbiome in the maintenance of health and causation of disease and to use that knowledge to improve the ability to prevent and treat disease".
The Nobel Prize: Who Would You Nominate?
Nobel Prize-Winning Discovery: GFP
Nobel Prize-Winning Discovery: PCR