SciCafe: NYC Subways: Mapping the Urban Microbiome, Genome, and Metagenome

February 4, 2015

SciCafe Nov14

Geneticists such as Chris Mason, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Biophysics at Weill Cornell College, are combing the New York City subway system to swab surfaces, collect specimens, and create a map of the urban microbiome and DNA in the world that surrounds us. The approach involves rapid, continual sampling and analysis of microbiomes in public places to detect changes that could signal a microbial threat due to bioterrorism or emergent disease. The project could serve as a model for detection, rapid-response, and containment of bioterrorism and other microbial dangers and may eventually give real-time, city-wide diagnostics for medical laboratories.

This SciCafe event occurred on February 4, 2015. Hear the full program in this podcast, or watch a version here: 



Learn more about Chris Mason's Research:

Full story with video:

Methods details:

Scientific Paper:

Learn more about Pathomap, a research project by Weill Cornell Medical College to study the microbiotic population and genetic dynamics in urban areas: 

An illustration in New York Magazine featuring Chris Mason’s research:

Researchers take advantage of rapid and cheap DNA sequencing technologies to map the bacterial microbiome of New York City: 

Learn about the work in Space Genomics being led by Dr. Mason:

Crowdfunding a citizen science micro biome: 

This project is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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