Marty Blaser, Muriel G. and George W. Singer Professor of Translational Medicine; Professor; Director Human Microbiome Program, Departments of Medicine and Microbiology, New York University
Jason Bobe, Director, Personal Genome Project, Harvard Medical School
Frederic Bushman, Professor, Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania
J. Gregory Caporaso, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Northern Arizona University, and Argonne National Labs
Patrice Cani, Group Leader, Faculté de pharmacie et des sciences biomédicales, Universite Catholique de Louvain
George Church, Founder, Personal Genome Project, Professor, Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Founding Core Faculty Member, Wyss Institute, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard and MIT
Jose Clemente, Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, and Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York
Maria Gloria Dominguez, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, New York University, and Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico Rio Pedras
Pieter Dorrestein, Director, Therapuetic Discovery Mass Spectrometry Center, University of California – San Diego
Rob Dunn, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Science, North Carolina State University
Jonathan Eisen, Professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology and Department of Medical Microbiology, University of California at Davis
J. Bruce German, Director, Foods for Health Institute, University of California at Davis
Dirk Gevers, Group Leader, Microbial Systems & Communities, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Jack Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Chicago and Argonne National Labs
Jessica Green, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Oregon
Susan Holmes, Professor, Department of Statistics, Stanford University
Phil Hugenholtz, Director, Australian Center for Ecogenomics, University of Queensland
Curtis Huttenhower, Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics Harvard School of Public Health
Janet Jansson, Professor and Senior Staff Scientist, Department of Ecology, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Rob Knight, Professor, HHMI and BioFrontiers Institute, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado at Boulder
Dan Knights, Assistant Professor, Biotechnology Institute, University of Minnesota
Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, Assistant Professor, Engineering Research Director, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University
Jeff Leach, Founder, Human Food Project
Carlito Lebrilla, Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of California at Davis
Cecil M Lewis, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma
James Lewis, Senior Scholar, Epidemiology, Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Ruth Ley, Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology, Cornell University
Catherine Lozupone, Assistant Professor, Division of BioMedical Informatics and Personalized Medicine, Anschultz Medical Campus, University of Colorado at Denver
Joseph Petrosino, Director, Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research, Baylor College of Medicine
Jeroen Raes, Group Leader, Department of Structural Biology, Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB), Belgium
Jacques Ravel, Professor, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Jan Suchodolski, Clinical Assistant Professor & Associate Director, Gastrointestinal Laboratory, Texas A&M University
Kelly Swanson, Associate Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Owen White, Director, Department of Bioinformatics, University of Maryland School of Medicine; PI, Human Microbiome Project Data Analysis and Coordination Center
Gary D. Wu, Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Ramnik Xavier, Chief of Gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Director Center for the study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute
If I have disease or ailment, can I still participate?
Yes. Anyone over the age of 3 months can participate in the study. You will have the opportunity to provide that additional information as part of the questionnaire you will fill out online once you receive your sample kit at home. We especially encourage you to participate and to enter information about your condition as this will help us understand what the microbiome is associated with.
If I have taken antibiotics recently, can I still participate?
Yes, but please let us know what specific antibiotics you took and when.
I live in Canada, is that OK?
Yes. Anyone in the world can sign up.
Has the project received any outside review or approval.
Yes. Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of Colorado at Boulder approved the protocol, thus assuring the project is adhering to applicable laws, regulations, and ethical standards necessary for research involving human participants.
Can I sign my dog up?
How about my cat?
Yes, most species of pets are fine too (but check before sending). We don’t recommend pet alligator samples. It is just hard to get the fecal sample safely.
Are my results anonymous and confidential?
Yes. All samples are tracked by a barcode and de-identified and coded on receipt at the University of Colorado. You will be supplied with your barcode number. Other sites will not have your personally identifying information, nor will that personally identifying information be released on the internet. Sequence data, diet information, and other health information you provide will be checked for personally identifying details, which will be removed before release. All sequence data and de-identified information will be released on the internet and anyone will be able to access them. It is theoretically possible that you might be identifiable from your data (e.g. if there is only one person with your condition in your town), as outlined on the consent form, so if you have concerns about this possibility we recommend that either you not participate, or you let us know about your concerns so that we can make your data less detailed before release (e.g. by coding geographic information only to the state level).
Is the American Gut project funded or associated with any pharmaceutical company or the U.S. government?
No. This is a decentralized research project to explore the variability of the gut microbiome of the general public. The entire project is being crowdsourced.
Will getting my gut microbiota sequenced diagnose disease?
No. Diagnosis based on the microbiota is still in its early stages — although this project may assist in developing such diagnoses due to its unprecedented scale. However, the information you receive should not be construed as medical advice.
How soon do I need to send the kit back?
The sooner the better. However, we need everyone to complete the 7-day food diary before taking your sample and sending it back. The instructions for how to do so will be included with your kit.
How does American Gut differ from the Human Genome Project, the Personal Genome Project, or National Geographic’s Genographic project?
These projects are primarily focused on the human genome, not the genomes of your microbial symbionts. There is a microbiome component to the Personal Genome Project, supplied by many of the same people involved in American Gut, and if you are willing to have your genome sequenced and released on the internet we strongly recommend that you participate in both American Gut and the Personal Genome Project. George Church, the founder and director of the Personal Genome Project, is involved in American Gut and we encourage close ties among the project. Additionally, J. Bruce German, the director of the Foods for Health Institute and the Human Phenotyping Project at UC Davis, is collaborating. The potential for linking genotype to phenotype by way of our microbes is immense.
Will the American Gut project conduct any health-related analysis of gut microbiota?
No. The project is to determine the composition of the microbiota of the sampled site (gut, oral, skin). We will relate the composition of the microbiota to participant-supplied health information to identify promising leads for later studies but the information provided will not, at this stage of research, be useful for determining health status. Your individual benefit will be in contributing to basic knowledge about human-associated microbes and in a better understanding of what lives on and inside you (and how what you do affects it), not in actionable health information.
Where are the samples processed?
Samples are received and de-identified at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Some Rewards are provided by other institutions, to which de-identified samples will be supplied under a code access agreement in accordance with federal guidelines for human subjects research.
Are there any risks associated with the test?
We are not aware of any risks other than those associated with routine daily activities, e.g. wiping your nose (or other places).
Are the results of the American Gut project going to be published?
Yes. After providing each volunteer with their specific data and depositing the data with the open-source Earth Microbiome Project, the research team will likely produce several peer-reviewed papers from the project as well as public presentations. However, under no circumstances will your personal information ever be tied to your results in any database or published format.
What if I cannot afford to participate but would really like to be included in the study?
There will be a limited number of kits provided to folks who can’t afford to participate at this time. Please provide your email below and we will notify you at the end of January and we will see what we can do. Again, the number we can consider will be very limited. If you DO NOT receive an email from us then we were not able to include you.