Unlocking the potential of the microbiome with big data
What we do: We are using big data to understand the human microbiome. We’re all covered in trillions of bacteria. We help consumers and organizations understand these bacteria, what they are and what they do. Founded by UCSF scientists and Stanford and Cambridge technologists, our mission is to develop the largest dataset on the human gut in the world and learn from it. Why it's a big deal: There is a wealth of evidence that the human microbiome has profound consequences for our health. It has been correlated with a wide range of health conditions, from obesity, heart health, and IBD to autism, anxiety, and depression. We believe everyone should be able to explore their microbiome and discover how it is influenced by health and lifestyle. Everyone can learn about the bacteria that live on and in their bodies. We want to equip people with the tools to create their own scientific studies. We believe in the power of citizen science.
An analogy you could make is that uBiome is like the 23andMe for your personal microbiome. It’s a consumer product that could lay the foundation for much bigger collaborative research efforts around how the microbiome differs from person to person and what’s healthy and what’s not.
More than 2,500 participants joined the group’s indiegogo campaign, which raised more than $350,000 (the largest crowdfunded campaign for citizen science project to date, according to the company). Now, new customers can order kits ranging from $89 (“Sequence Your Gut”) to $399 (“Sequence All 5 Sites”).
The idea that the microbiome plays a more important role in human health has gathered momentum in the past decade.A key feature is that unlike our own DNA, it is not static: we can change its composition by adding "beneficial" bacteria. The US National Institutes of Health recently completed a $115m project investigating the microbiome.
Jessica Richman, one of the co-founders of uBiome, says she and her colleagues chose to crowd fund their project rather than use more traditional types of fundraising because they wanted to engage the public in the project.
uBiome has launched the first citizen science project to sequence and map the human microbiome. The San Francisco–based biotech startup, currently being incubated at the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), is funding the project exclusively through the popular crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com.
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