Science needs your money (and your gut bacteria)

Here's an interesting project that combines participatory citizen science with crowdsource funding models.

American Gut is a project to catalog, analyze, and compare microbiomes of a diverse swath of Americans. Microbiomes are the bacteria that live in you (and on you). They're both separate from your body and a part of it. Scientists want to better understand what bacteria live with us, what they do, and how the populations of bacteria change depending on factors like your diet, where you live, and your ethnicity. The project is entirely funded by crowdsourcing, so how you participate is also how you donate. For instance, in exchange for a $99 donation, you'll get a kit that will enable scientists to do DNA extraction and 16sRNA sequencing on the bacteria they find in a sample of your skin, saliva, or poop. After they've studied the sample, the researchers will present you with information about your microbiome and how it compares to those of other participants.

You can sign up to donate/participate anytime between now and January 7. There are also a few opportunities available for people who want to participate, but can't donate any money right now.


  1. …in exchange for a $99 donation, you’ll get a kit that will enable scientists to do DNA extraction and 16sRNA sequencing on the bacteria they find in a sample of your skin, saliva, or poop.

    Well, good luck finding that many people willing to give a shit.

    1. You joke (and thank you for that), but I went directly to the website and bought ‘Microbes for Two’.  I’ve been curious for years about what the microbial diversity of our guts may tell us about our overall health, now and in the future.  I’ll get to test my theory, that my husband’s gut is healthier and more diverse than mine, even though I eat from a wider range of foods.  I’ve taken more antibiotics over a lifetime and I’ve been through chemo. 

      I think this will get full funding.  Alot of folks will give a shit.

      1. Yeah, well y’all can take that colonic sampling swab and stick it up your ass!!

        [EDIT to add: …then send it back in the enclosed pre-paid envelope for laboratory study, of course.]

          1. (Ow!)

            In all seriousness, my family is in a similar situation, though my wife’s microbial diversity is probably diminished due to a surgical procedure that resulted in some pretty major habitat destruction. Sounds like an interesting study.

          2. @welcomeabored:disqus :
            Good question. The procedure she had has only been around for 15 years or so, and I don’t know if it’s long-term effects of microbial diversity have been studied yet. She might take some convincing to win over, though.

          3. Yes dear, the language just seemed a bit too direct.  I normally love Brainspore’s sense of humor.  (You may recall I also bridled at being called a bitch.) 

            I’ve spent five days alone.  I think I hear a martini calling my name.

  2. There’s a similar (competing?) indiegogo site set up for μBiome, which has a significantly lower monetary goal and more donations (currently).  American Gut is making its data public, while μBiome is “looking into it”.

    1.  It looks like American Gut is associated with more university researchers so the data’s more likely to make it into published papers. uBiome looks more like a biotech startup, like 23andme for your colon.

  3. I am so firmly a believer in this that I too will do poo for two.  Seriously though, there is some fascinating anecdotal and peer reviewed shit out there.

    The anecdotal:

    The peer reviewed:

    than that book that guy wrote can someone please remember this for me : (

    It has been found that women’s gut flora changes during pregnancy and that the gut flora in diabetics is markedly different that those who are not.  Some studies have even suggested that neurochemistry dynamically interacts with the intestinal microbiome.

    Anyway, these studies are one of the new frontiers in medicine and I expect that there will be a paradigm shift in our understanding of human illness, disease, and disorder as a result.  This makes me wish I was still in grad school (did I just say that?).

Comments are closed.