Microbial Metrology Group

Microbes play a critical role in health, agriculture, public safety, alternative energy, manufacturing and the environment. These applications demand reliability of identification, discrimination, and quantification of microbes at a level of speed and accuracy that is unprecedented.


The NIST microbial metrology program has five distinct programmatic drivers which are focused on critical national needs:

Combating the Emergence and Spread of Antimicrobial Resistance: To address this current world health crisis, NIST is developing innovative measurement tools for predicting the potential for antibiotic resistance to emerge and to provide a real-time assessment of antimicrobial susceptibility.

Microbiome Community Measurements: More reliable, dynamic and discriminating measurements are needed to understand and fully exploit these complex microbial systems for human health and industrial applications. Standards and reference data and materials will help to assure the reliance and comparability of measurements made in different locations.

Pathogen Detection and Identification: NIST scientists are partnering with industry and federal stakeholders to develop innovative standards for assessing analytical sensitivity, specificity, and relative performance of state-of-the-art pathogen detection technologies.

Predictive Engineering Biology: Our work is focused on the development of measurements and other tools that will enable improved predictability and scalability in the engineering of biological systems.

Microbial Biofilms: NIST scientists and engineers are developing quantitative measurement approaches to characterize the effects of novel antimicrobial materials and technologies on biofilms.