This page is closed but you can now signup for ubiome at ubiome.com
uBiome is a citizen science project that allows the public access to cutting edge sequencing technology to understand their health through the microbiome.
How does the microbiome affect my health? We are all covered in trillions of microbes -- in fact, they outnumber human cells 10:1. The trillions of bacteria live on and in us are collectively called the microbiome.
Like the rainforest, the healthy human microbiome is a balanced ecosystem. The correct balance of microbes keeps potential pathogens in check and regulates our immune system. Microbes also perform essential functions such as digesting food and synthesizing vitamins. Studies have also linked the microbiome to human mood and behavior, as well as many gut disorders, eczema, and chronic sinusitis.
Many studies have been done, but they haven't been done with YOUR data, yet.
Using techniques used in the NIH’s $173 million dollar Human Microbiome Project, we can tell you what microbes are living in your body, compare you to others, and keep you up to date on research that applies to your data.
What can I learn from this? Well, you can see how your personal microbiome correlates with others, and how it correlates with actions you take. (With the uBiome Delta^5 kit, for example, you can sample all 5 areas at 5 timepoints and see how your microbiome responds to your experiments. For the more budget conscious, Quantified uBiome allows you to sample just your GI tract at 3 time points.) This kind of citizen science has never been done before, so we can't say: "Eat x, and your microbiome will be perfect!" However, we hope to provide as useful and actionable data as possible.
How does it work? We send you a kit, you take a sample (painless, easy, and simple) and answer a health survey. We then send you a link to our website where we tell you what's in your gut (and/or nose, mouth, ear, genitals), how it correlates to other people in our sample, and relevant scientific studies that relate to your profile. (And, yes, the GI tract sample is poo from your toilet paper.)
Citizen Science, Data, and International Outreach
We will involve the public in not just collecting the samples, but in analyzing the data, generating and testing hypotheses, and doing as much official "science" as possible. We want this to be the first shot in a revolution in how science is done around the world.
Your data is open to the world... if you choose. Your data is yours -- you can download it, share it, do whatever you want with it. We encourage you to opt-in to share your data with our scientists, but we respect your privacy and will not force you to do so. The data is also anonymized and private.
We are also passionate about involving the rest of the world in our project, as we feel strongly that non-Americans are underrepresented in traditional research. We welcome participants from 196 countries and also offer our uBiome Philanthropist perk which will also send a kit to our research partners in the developing world. (If you are concerned about shipping outside the US, please know that we have done a lot of work to understand the shipping regulations and are confident that we can ship to you. If, for some reason this is not possible, we will refund your money.)
If you are interested in a private experiment designed by our scientists, please consider our uBiome Sponsor level. For the same amount, you can also donate kits so that others can participate in uBiome. We will sign up 150 people who cannot afford their own kits! Help us increase access to scientific research. Please contact us for details. If you have any questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help us spread the word about uBiome!
If you have ideas for media, mailing lists, newsletters, or people who might be interested in sponsorships, partnerships or the like, please email us at email@example.com.
Selected Press and Comments
I'm having my microbiome sequenced with uBiome. It's a glimpse of the future.
Really cool biohacking project -- please support them!
Dave Asprey, Bulletproof Executive
This will be provide a much needed new set of biomarkers for conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease and IBS. I bought the kit to contribute to uBiome's citizen science drive.
uBiome is looking to take the next leap in sequencing the human microbiome. Where the Human Microbiome Project sequenced around 250 people, uBiome is looking for a sample size in the thousands.
The "quantified self" movement might need a new name...Do people who drink a lot of coffee have a different form of bacteria than those who don't? Do people with a certain disease tend to lack a species found in most other people?
MIT Technology Review
We ship to 196 countries -- including yours!
Just add $12 for one-way international shipping to your order.
Help advance science
We can ask how the microbiome is involved in common unsolved diseases like diabetes, depression, and hypertension (based on the prevalence of these diseases in the US population). When you join uBiome, you'll be able to crowdsource your own questions of the uBiome contributors. For example, one contributor asked, "How does the microbiome change when I follow a paleo diet?" With your help, we can find out!
Explore your body
The microbiome may be as important to human health as the human genome, but unlike the genome, you can change your microbiome. Because of this amazing potential, understanding the microbiome has become one of the most important scientific inquiries of our time. What are all these microbes and how do they affect our health?
We’re just beginning to learn the effects our microbiome has on us, but one thing is very clear: it’s incredibly important to your health. Certain species help digest food; some synthesize vitamins; others guide the immune system. Over a third of the bioactive molecules in our blood are produced by microorganisms. These molecules are things like caffeine, alcohol, aspirin, drugs, hormones, and neurotransmitters. They have potent effects on every aspect of our metabolism and behavior.
Researchers have linked diabetes, obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, chronic sinusitis, depression, and anxiety to diverse organisms within the microbiome. You have a different microbiome in your mouth, your sinuses, your ears, your gut, your genitals, and on your skin. Often, it’s not the individual species that matter but the diversity of the ecosystem. Just as the health of the tropical rainforest depends upon diversity, our own health appears to benefit from the presence of a wide range of beneficial microbes.
Explore the microbiome
Once we have sequenced your samples, our team will analyze the results to explore scientific research questions such as how the microbiome influences human health and disease. We'll also crowdsource our research questions: you will be able to design your own experiments. We'll use the uBiome data set to answer your questions.
In return for your pledge, you get your own personal microbiome data as well as some cool analysis and visualization tools that will let you compare yourself to published health and disease studies. Scientists have already made important discoveries about how the composition of the microbiome relates to diseases like obesity, tooth decay, and chronic sinusitis. We'll give you this information and help you to see how your microbiome compares with others, interpret the scientific literature, and empower you to understand the latest research about microbiomes like yours.
How it works
Our sample kit contains everything you need to swab and submit your human microbiome. Whether for your mouth, ears, nose, GI tract or genitalia, your kit will allow you to learn more about your human microbiome. You pledge and we send you a sample kit. You swipe the sample brush across the corresponding sample site and send the kit back to us.
Each sample kit has been carefully designed by our scientific team to enable us to extract and sequence microbial DNA from the human body. After swiping the sample site, the cells are lysed in solution and sent to our laboratory for processing.
Once we've sequenced your sample, we'll send you your results and a login to our website where you can visualize and understand your data. As a uBiome community member you find out about our latest discoveries first, participate in ongoing citizen science projects, and suggest new questions that we can address together.
uBiome will never release any of your personal identifying data. We will never even store your data in such a way that anyone could figure out who you are from it.
Through citizen science, you can have direct involvement in the latest research. We are reaching out on Indiegogo in order to build a community of citizen scientists who want to unlock the mysteries of the human microbiome.
Use of funds
Your pledge funds will be used to sequence your sample, analyze the results, and develop the uBiome community. This includes purchasing reagents (primers, buffers, enzymes) for sequencing, running the equipment, performing bioinformatics and statistical analysis, setting up and running the website, and renting our lab space in the QB3@UCSF biotech startup garage.
Who should participate in uBiome?
Everyone! skinny, fat, sick, healthy, Coke, Pepsi, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, babies, grandmothers, lactose intolerant, gluten allergic, happy, sad, smoker, drinker, bald, vegan, smelly, bad breath, brown hair, blue eyes, blue hair, brown eyes, Atkins diet, high carb diet, sleepy, gassy, anxious, horny, asexual, smart, dyslexic, gorgeous, pregnant, and completely average. Babies, older people, women, men... everyone!
We ship almost anywhere in the world and will analyze anyone's microbiome. Even yours.
The more people and the more diversity we have, the more power we have as a group... statistically speaking of course.
Jessica Richman started and sold her first company after high school. Returning to formal education, she attended Stanford University, where she earned degrees in Economics and interdisciplinary engineering (emphasis in computer science). Along the way, she worked for Google, McKinsey, Lehman Brothers, the Grameen Bank, and top-tier Silicon Valley venture firms. Currently a DPhil student at Oxford University, her academic interests include network science, innovation, collective intelligence, and entrepreneurship.
Dr. Zachary Apte
Dr. Apte is a biophysicist, inventor, and entrepreneur dedicated to finding creative, unique solutions to intractable problems facing the world. Trained in both theoretical high-energy physics and cell biology, he holds a PhD in biophysics from UCSF. Previously, he was the founder of DesignBreak, connecting scientists and engineers with the developing world. He also conducted initial research and development for the project that became the first published carbon emissions rating label in North America.
Dr. William Ludington
Dr. Ludington is an independent investigator and a Bowes Fellow in the Molecular Cell Biology department at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of gut microbiota and their effects on host behavior using metagenomic approaches. Before receiving his PhD in cell biology from the University of California, San Francisco, he attended Stanford University, where he studied ecology and conservation biology.
Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Joseph DeRisi
A MacArthur Genius Award Winner, Dr. DeRisi is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator and a Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Pablo Valenzuela
Co-Founder of Chiron Pharmaceuticals and the author of hundreds of scientific papers, Dr. Valenzuela is a leading biotechnologist and former professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Liam Holt
Dr. Holt is an independent investigator and Bowes Fellow at UC Berkeley, who runs the Holt Lab, investigating signaling mechanisms in communities of microbes.
Dr. Meghana Gadgil MD
Internal Medicine resident at Stanford University Medical School, has studied microbial transmission and handwashing in India.
Dr. Sebastian Bernales
Director of Research and Development at Medivation, a publicly traded pharmaceutical company, as well as a research fellow at an Ciencias de la Vida in Chile.
Do you ship anywhere in the world?
Yes! We accept payment through Indiegogo, which allows funding from 196 countries. We have researched the regulations extensively and have determined that shipping samples will not be a problem. There is an additional $12 shipping charge for international (non-US) orders. Of course, if for some reason we cannot ship to your country, we will give you a full refund. However, we do not anticipate this will be a problem.
Can I sequence a child? A baby?
YES! You can definitely sequence your child, at any age. Will be fascinating to see what we find out!
Why are you going directly to the consumer?
We are funding this project through citizen science for several reasons. First, we want to bring this technology directly to the public as quickly as possible. Second, we want to prove that citizen science is a viable way to do science, and an alternative to slower, more traditional methods. And finally, going directly to the public does not prevent more traditional funding later -- we just wanted to get you all involved as soon as possible!
Are you going to open everyone's sequencing data to the public?
We are huge fans of open science and would love to open our data to the public. However, it is *your* data, not ours, and we are concerned about protecting your privacy, as well as other issues. We will allow our users to opt-in to share their data with the public, but will not require it.
Why isn't your project open data?
We're big fans of scientific openness and can see the merits of an open data project. However, making it open data is quite problematic from a privacy perspective. Yes, it provides more data for research, but at the same time it opens private health information to the public. Deanonymization is a real concern and we want to empower our participants to make that choice for themselves.
Is your project community-driven?
Yes! We are passionate about citizen science and want to involve the public in data collection, hypothesis-generation, and hypothesis testing. Our goal is to build a community around long-term sequencing of the human microbiome. We want to engage and involve you in the process. That's the whole point.
Are you doing full metagenomic sequencing?
Full metagenomic sequencing is not ideal for citizen science because it's more expensive and there are not enough completed medical studies using it. We are doing what is called 16S sequencing. 16S is a ribosomal gene present in bacterial DNA that makes it possible for us to classify bacteria at the genus level and also filter out genetic material from humans and other organisms. This is the same sequencing method used in the bulk of past studies in this area, so it gives us the greatest ability to compare with past studies, making your data most relevant.
Can you diagnose or cure disease?
We are not doctors and cannot diagnose medical conditions. uBiome is not a diagnostic test. However, we can give you valuable information about your microbiome that you can use to learn more about your health. You and your doctor can discuss the results of the test and determine the best way to proceed.
What can you tell me about my health?
uBiome can tell you three important things:
1) What lives in your gut (or other sampling area) at the time the sample was taken, and in what proportions
2) How others with a similar microbiome profile correlate with you on a health survey
3) How your microbiome compares with populations in scientific studies
What can I do with this information?
Well, there are a few things. First, you can use it to understand what is going on in your body. If you have a tricky health condition and would like more information about your body, your uBiome profile might add useful additional data points. If you are going on a diet, experiencing a bowel flare-up, or changing your lifestyle, we can help you see how your microbiome is before and after. If you would like to know how your microbiome compares to others or to yourself over time (or both), we can help with that too.
Also, the information you contribute allows all of us to learn more about the microbiome, and, going forward, to better understand and possibly cure disease.
Does uBiome have an Institutional Review Board?
Balancing the needs of open access while maintaining your safety and privacy is very important. To achieve this end, we are working with an independent Institutional Review Board (IRB) to provide ethical oversight. We will provide complete details when this process is complete.
Isn’t IRB oversight required before a study can begin?
IRB oversight is used to make sure a study is ethically sound before it begins. Our IRB will be completed before any kits are sent out and before any consent forms are signed. We will release our consent forms when we have final IRB approval.
However, IRB approval is not required for us to provide our primary service of microbiome compositional analysis and interpretation for private parties. Thus, our sample collection is part of a service and our research study is a meta-analysis of de-identified data, which is technically exempt from IRB. That said, we are doing full Board review to insure that every aspect of the project is ethically safe and sound.
If uBiome accepted any federal funding or was a university research laboratory instead of a citizen science startup, the IRB review would indeed be mandatory. As it is, this review should only strengthen uBiome as a research study and as a community.
If I do not consent to participate in the study, can I get a refund?
When we send out our study information and consent form, we will allow you to correct information about your order (address, upgrade kit, etc.). At that time, you can also get a refund if you do not choose to participate.
How do I get the GI tract sample?
We will send you detailed instructions along with your kit. But, yes, basically you are swabbing a small bit of poo off the toilet paper to get a sample.
Will my GI tract sample smell?
No. The amount of the sample needed is quite small, and the cotton swab goes immediately into the lysing solution in a closed container. Nothing smelly at all.
uBiome in Other Languages
A uBiome, lançou recentemente o primeiro esforço, á escala mundial, com ajuda dos cidadãos, para mapear o microbioma humano (ver link: www.indiegogo.com/ubiome). O microbioma é composto por triliões de bactérias que vivem dentro de nós. Estudos relacionaram desequilíbrios do microbioma com problemas de autismo, depressão, ansiedade, assim como problemas intestinais, eczema, e sinusite crónica. Quanto maior for a nossa amostra de pesquisa mais poderemos fazer avançar a ciência e o conhecimento.
Até agora, a empresa uBiome, já recebeu mais de 130.000 dólares em crowdfunding, de mais de mil e cem investidores de todo o mundo, foi noticia destacada na Wired magazine, Sicentific American, BoingBoing, Los Angeles Times, MIT Technology Review, e muitos mais. Junte-se a nós em www.indiegogo.com/ubiome!