Understanding and Advancing Best Practices for Human Nutrition & Gut Microbiome Research


In 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) collaborated with the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to develop and document “Considerations for Best Practices in Studies of Fiber or Other Dietary Components and the Intestinal Microbiome” (Klurfeld et al. 2018). The primary recommendation resulting from this exchange was to “describe dietary ingredients and treatments in as much detail as possible to allow reproduction by other scientists.”

Since 2017, science around diet-gut microbiome-health relationships has continued to proliferate. While there have been several publications addressing methods for human research on diet-gut microbiome-and health, the extent to which “best practices” have been articulated in this field is not known. In addition, there are many publications focused on best practices in human nutrition research generally, but the degree to which these are applicable to gut microbiome studies versus needing additional or different guidance has not been explored.

This project aims to improve the conduct of, and alignment across, gut microbiome research. Capturing the latest knowledge regarding best practices and “suggested” practices based on researcher experience and encouraging implementation would support the harmonization of research and improve the ability to compare studies and conduct meta-analyses to address key questions. This project starts with an umbrella review of published guidance to identify gaps. These gaps will then be addressed by an appropriate mechanism to understand and convey the state of knowledge on optimal research designs and methods in this field.

Expert Group:

Chris Cifelli, PhD, National Dairy Council
Cindy Davis, PhD, USDA-ARS
Tatiana Diacova, MS RD, UC Davis
Hannah Holscher, PhD RD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Mary Kable, PhD, UC Davis and USDA-ARS
Philip Karl, PhD, RD, USARIEM
Johanna Lampe, PhD RD, Fred Hutch Cancer Center
Kelly Swanson, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Year: 2023

View this project on the Center for Open Science’s Open Science Framework.

This work is supported by the IAFNS Gut Microbiome Committee.