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

ry department and computer science department. "By looking at samples from the general public, we can get a far better sense of what a 'normal' microbiome is and what factors have the largest effects."

The scientists are particularly interested in how diet and lifestyle, whether by choice or necessity, affect peoples' microbial makeup, including those suffering from particular autoimmune diseases or who have food allergies, said Knight, also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist.

"The large number of participants in American Gut, coupled with our ongoing work in Africa and South America, will allow us to explore the impact of diet and lifestyle between western and more traditional societies," said Leach. "We may find that our modern gut microbiome has shifted significantly away from our ancestral one, but reinstating some of that primal balance may be within our grasp."

"I'm super excited about helping to build a system that not only integrates so much data but also presents it to the user in a useful way," said Meg Pirrung, a graduate student in Knight's lab. "This is an amazing opportunity for me and everyone involved."

Daniel McDonald, a graduate student in the BioFrontiers Institute's IQ Biology Program, said the American Gut project is allowing him to hone his interdisciplinary experience. IQ Biology students are involved in semester-long rotations that immerse them in disciplines ranging from mathematical and computational biology to biophysics and bio-imaging. "It's an extraordinary opportunity for discovery," he said.

The American Gut data also will also be used in the several IQ Biology Program courses taught by Knight with Manuel Lladser, an associate professor in the applied mathematics department. Last year the IQ Biology program at CU's BioFrontiers Institute, which offers doctorates in eight disciplines, was awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Integrative Grad
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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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