Gut Microbiome Characterization

Microbiome Characterization in Underrepresented PE-CGS Cancer Patients

Project Snapshot

Did you know?

Diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors shape gut microbiome composition which, in turn, influences health conditions like colorectal cancer in underrepresented populations.


To explore associations between microbial composition of American Indian, Hispanic/Latino and African American colorectal cancer (CRC) patients and clinical factors (e.g., race, age at diagnosis, diet, cancer progression and genetic changes).


  • Collect patient stool samples to compare with publicly available datasets and Caucasian CRC patients.
  • Use a CRC mouse model to validate findings and explore associations with age-of-onset and diet.


Integrating microbiome data with genomic data will offer insights into cancer initiation and progression among underrepresented patient populations which will help in identifying personalized treatment approaches.


Project Deep Dive


The gut microbiome significantly influences how tumors form, grow, and respond to treatment. Cultural factors such as dietary habits, lifestyle choices, and environmental exposures heavily influence gut microbiomes, which are likely linked with varying health conditions in underrepresented populations. Colorectal cancer (CRC) has been extensively studied in relation to the microbiome, given the colon's rich microbial diversity. However, little is known about the role of gut microbiome among underrepresented CRC patients engaged across the PE-CGS Network, including American Indians (AI), Hispanic/Latinos (H/L) and African Americans (AA), who often face earlier cancer onset and poorer clinical outcomes. The PE-CGS Network Research Centers—UNM/TGen, COPECC and WU-PE-CGS— will collaborate to study the gut microbiome in early- and late-stage CRC patients from AI, H/L, and AA backgrounds to explore links between microbial composition and clinical factors, such as race, age at diagnosis, diet, cancer progression and relevant genetic changes.

Each Research Center will collect stool samples from consented patients and analyze the microbiome to understand the types of microbes present in their gut. They will compare the samples from AI, AA and H/L patients against public datasets (e.g., American Gut Project) and Caucasian CRC patients. Additionally, they will compare samples from AI and AA patients against H/L CRC samples as AI and AA patients experience earlier onset of cancer. They will also use a CRC mouse model developed by COPECC, to validate findings and explore associations with age-of-onset and diet.

The integration of microbiome data with existing clinical and genomic data collected in the PE-CGS Network will provide a comprehensive understanding of cancer initiation and progression in underrepresented patient populations. This understanding could help in identifying new ways to diagnose and treatment plans for cancer tailored to the unique microbiome profiles of AI, H/L, and AA cancer patients.