The International Metagenomics and Microbiome Standards Alliance (IMMSA) is a non-hierarchical association of microbiome-focused researchers from industry, academia, and government. IMMSA was formed for the mutual benefit of the entire microbiome and metagenomics community and will focus specifically on coordinating cross-cutting efforts that address microbiome and metagenomic measurement challenges. IMMSA members are representative experts for all major microbiological ecosystems (e.g. human/animal, built, and environmental ecosystems) and are representative experts from various scientific disciplines; including, but not limited to, microbiology, genomics, epidemiology, bioinformatics and statistics.
While remaining non-hierarchical, IMMSA will consist of a governing board that oversees the activities of the alliance as well as defines and implements the major directives of the alliance.The founding governing board consists of a single representative from the four founding institutes:
- Baylor College of Medicine: Russell Carmical
- Weill Cornell Medicine: Christopher Mason
- National Institute of Standards and Technology: Scott Jackson
- University of Vermont (ABRF): Scott Tighe
Aside from the governing board, IMMSA will also recruit and recognize members who are an active part of the metagenomics and microbiome community and have shared interest in microbiome and metagenomics measurement challenges.
IMMSA recognizes that other microbiome and metagenomics “standards” consortia are currently active, or have previously been active.It is not the mission of IMMSA to replace or duplicate the efforts of previous consortia that have, or have had, a similar mission. Rather, IMMSA will stay informed of these efforts and will build an overarching knowledgebase of all relevant activities that can be shared and leveraged in order to mutually benefit the entire microbiome and metagenomics community.
IMMSA is hosted by The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST is a non-regulatory federal government agency within the Department of Commerce. NIST serves as the national reference laboratory for biological measurements through activities ranging from fundamental and applied research, to the development and dissemination of certified reference materials, critically evaluated data, and other programs and tools to assure the quality of measurement results. NIST is also responsible for coordinating the Standard Reference Material and Standard Reference Data programs.
IMMSA will serve its mission through the following activities:
- Monthly web-based meetings to update on past activities and future activities.
- Maintaining a wiki-based website (or a blog) where active members can share updates on activities that are relevant to the community at large.
- Publishing a quarterly newsletter sharing relevant news on IMSSA activities as well and related non-IMMSA activities.
- Identify standards and reference materials that currently exists or are being developed.
- Identify sources of measurement uncertainty and, as appropriate, design and coordinate inter-lab studies to address these measurement uncertainty issues.