The gut revolution
Everyone has a gut microbiome (the trillions of bacteria living in the gut), which we like to call "Gutty". Your Gutty needs to be nourished daily, just like you. The problem? Our diets have decreased in foods known to feed our gut microbiome such as fruits, vegetables, fibers, and other plant-based or fermented foods. We may be starving our Gutty.
As our gut is a cornerstone of health, we need to make sure we take care of it. We also need to better understand what is the best way to nourish our Gutty.
The Human Diets & Microbiome Initiative (THDMI) aims to discover the best diets and foods on the planet that can nourish the Gutties of the world, by using the latest sequencing technology.
Because the task is gigantic, scientists from Danone Nutricia Research & the Center for Microbiome Innovation (CMI) through The Microsetta Initiative (TMI) at the University of California San Diego have decided to team up with YOU, Citizen Scientists of the world, to contribute to the largest international microbiome citizen science project.
We believe citizen science belongs to all, and as such the data generated will be open & available to any researcher. This way everyone can join our effort to research the connection between the diet and the gut microbiome.
THDMI is a unique opportunity to become a citizen scientist, to see what your own Gutty looks like, and is free to you!
Please pre-register today.
Become a citizen scientist
Fill in the form to pre-register and we’ll get back to you with more information to participate.
As a citizen scientist, you will be asked to provide a stool sample, which will be used to analyze your gut microbiome composition and complete a questionnaire about your diet and lifestyle. This will enable us to know how your microbiome compares to others, and most importantly learn how your diet and lifestyle may shape your gut microbiome.
Participants in the THDMI program will have the opportunity to get their microbiome sequenced for free, contributing to the advancement of microbiome science and helping in their own way to shape the potential next frontier in healthcare. All of the data will be anonymized ensuring the participants privacy and confidentiality before being added to the Microsetta open database which is accessible by the scientific community around the world.
Thousands of citizen scientists have already participated in TMI. Today, we plan to recruit 500 citizens, first in the US, and then expand the recruitment to new regions over the upcoming years. Perhaps your country will be the next one to participate!
We are inviting everyone interested to pre-register as a citizen scientist now lso that we can get back to you quickly once the THDMI program becomes available in your country.
- What is a gut microbiome?
- The Gut microbiome, also called intestinal microbiota or gut flora, refers to the trillions of microscopic organisms that live in our gut. These bugs can include bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microscopic lifeforms. They are typically known as the good bugs, which assist our body in maintaining an healthy balance with our environment.
- What is the role of the gut microbiome?
- The gut microbiome plays an important role in both health and disease.
- These microorganisms enable the proper functioning of our gut by helping us digest our food and by supplementing many functions that our bodies cannot perform, such as synthesis of some types of essential vitamins, neurotransmitters, and fatty acids. These organisms even help to train and support our immune system! Recently, the scientific community discovered associations between the microbiome and depression, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the second brain.
- The gut microbiome has been linked to certain chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, asthma, and inflammatory conditions such as Crohn disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and recently to autism and Parkinson disease.
- Why is the THDMI program different compared to existing initiatives?
- With this collaboration, we aim to expand and speed up the knowledge around the link between the microbiome and human diets across the world.
- Danone is making a very significant investment in this project to enable a large number of citizen scientists to join this effort for free.
- Because of differences in disease susceptibility among populations, the high variability in microbiota composition between individuals, and even within the same individual, we need to look at several cohorts across all geographical regions to be able to have a complete mapping of the gut microbiome, and to look at the effects of diet on the gut microbiome.
- To create a comprehensive database, this collaboration will make use of recent molecular and computational advances with shotgun metagenomics to sample the compendium of genomic DNA in the gut microbiome.
- Why is it important to extend the research to different continents/countries?
- The gut microbiome is affected by both the host and environmental factors. Among them, diet and lifestyle (hygiene, antibiotics, …) play an important role.
- The types of microbes living in our guts are extremely dependent on what we eat, partly because many of these microbes eat what we cannot metabolize (such as plant fibers); and what we eat is influenced by our cultural heritage, our preferences, and also by where we live.
- The gut microbiome of someone who eats just a few types of plants per week, for example, can be distinguished from the gut microbiome of someone who eats a large number of types of plants per week. The ability to see these differences and learn from them can be achieved through our techniques, allowing us to assess the various impacts of diet in the microbiome, which is one of the objectives of this project.