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Human bacteria sequencing project involving CU raises $340,000 online
Date:2/5/2013

In hopes of better understanding nutrition and health, the University of Colorado Boulder is playing the leading science role in a "crowdfunding" effort that has raised more than $340,000 for a project designed to sequence the gut bacteria of thousands of people around the world.

Known as the American Gut project, the effort raised the money through a crowdfunding effort online in which collective groups of people pool money to support various initiatives, said CU-Boulder Associate Professor Rob Knight of the BioFrontiers Institute. The $340,477 raised for the American Gut project is the largest amount of money ever raised through crowdfunding for a science project, said Knight, who is co-leading the effort with Jeff Leach, founder of the Human Food Project.

The money contributed by 2,005 funders will be used to sequence gut bacteria from about 3,500 people said Knight. Each human is believed to harbor roughly 10 trillion microorganisms -- about 10 times more than the number of cells in the human body -- that undertake a number of important functions ranging from digesting food to the strengthening of immune systems.

In 2009, a consortium of 200 researchers from 80 institutions organized by the National Institutes of Health, including Knight, mapped the normal microbial makeup of healthy humans as part of the $173 million Human Microbiome Project. Building on the massive NIH effort, the American Gut project will be an "open source" effort, meaning participants will have access to the data gathered to help understand how diet and lifestyle may contribute to human health through the interaction of our microbiomes, cells and genes, said Knight.

"The outpouring of public support for this research project demonstrates how public awareness of the role of our microbial systems in human health is growing," said Knight, the project's scientific lead who holds joint faculty appointments in CU-Boulder's chemistry and biochemist
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Contact: Rob Knight
Rob.Knight@colorado.edu
303-492-1984
University of Colorado at Boulder
Source:Eurekalert  

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