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Established in 2003, MicrobeWorld is an interactive multimedia educational outreach initiative from the American Society for Microbiology that promotes awareness and understanding of key microbiological issues to adult and youth audiences, and showcases the significance of microbes in our lives.
The anthrax attacks of 2001 and the ensuing focus on bioterrorism, the potential of viral and bacterial infections for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the emergence of avian flu, and the public’s growing interest in alternative fuel sources have thrust microbes into unprecedented prominence in the headlines.
The American Society for Microbiology, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the biological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes, is capitalizing on this interest as an opportune time, a teachable moment on a national scale, to promote greater public awareness and appreciation of microbiology in general.
MicrobeWorld has additional value in informing the public about how science works. The various outreach methods feature the process of discovery, historical changes in research, and a variety of scientific careers in industry, academia, and government. One of the first MicrobeWorld Radio podcasts explained how microbes enter the initially sterile bodies of infants just hours after birth, establishing the microbial communities that stay with them for life. Other topics have included why the overuse of antibiotics is a growing problem, how microbes are key in the making of chocolate, and how microbiologists are on the front line in the war against infectious diseases that threaten human and animal health.