ARPA-H launches Exploration Topic to develop a novel healthy building index


The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) today announced the Predictions for Real-time Optimization of MICRObiomes of Built Environments (PRO-MICROBE) Exploration Topic to fund research on an indoor environmental quality index to monitor and predict microbial health in buildings, such as homes, hospitals, schools, and offices.  

The average American spends 90% of their time indoors, making indoor environments critical to the overall health of individuals and communities. Historically, indoor environmental quality research has primarily focused on physical and chemical data, and research on microbial communities of bacteria, viruses, and molds (or “microbiomes”) in indoor environments has largely focused on adverse effects to humans. PRO-MICROBE seeks foundational knowledge and technologies for leveraging the health-promoting functions of the microbiome of the built environment (MoBE).  

PRO-MICROBE is seeking proposals to integrate innovative microbial sampling tools with advanced analytical methods to develop a MoBE health index that scores the human health impact of an indoor microbiome. By creating new ways to assess and predict the effects of indoor microbial communities on occupant health outcomes, including respiratory, mental, and immune system health, PRO-MICROBE will open the door to next-generation buildings that resist harmful pathogens and support beneficial microbes. 

“PRO-MICROBE will make a transformational leap in connecting the microbiome of indoor environments to their impact on human health,” said ARPA-H Program Manager Jessica Green. “Through these understandings, we aim to address health inequities by measuring and reducing harmful environmental exposures in buildings across the country. This will be particularly impactful in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods where poor indoor environmental quality can lead to high morbidity and mortality rates.”     

For more information, view the PRO-MICROBE Exploration Topic (ET) on PRO-MICROBE proposals are due on October 4, 2024. 

Exploration Topics are fast-paced efforts that strategically align with ARPA-H Mission Offices and provide foundational proofs of concept for future research. Exploration Topics allow for a streamlined solicitation and acquisition approach.     

For questions, view PRO-MICROBE ET questions and answers. For more information on the related ARPA-H BREATHE program, which aims to create a scalable system capable of monitoring and managing indoor air, view the Building Resilient Environments for Air and Total HEalth (BREATHE) program page.