First pilot for global expansion of the American Gut Project under The Microsetta Initiative

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La Jolla, Calif., June 25, 2018—Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the LifeScience Institute in the Philippines have announced a pilot for the expansion of the American Gut Project under The Microsetta Initiative (TMI). Announced May 15, 2018 at the American Gut Project Mini-Symposium, TMI is focused on bringing microbiome citizen science to all corners of the world. It brings together existing projects, such as the American and British Gut Projects, and provides a framework for engaging citizen scientists across the globe.

The pilot launch in the Philippines is the first step towards “going global” for the initiative, which may help microbiome researchers to better understand how to translate findings across populations.

Cross-population studies such as the American Gut Project and other meta-analyses where studies are combined have shown evidence of strong associations between population and microbiome composition. These associations could impact the effectiveness of future therapeutics targeted at the microbiome, thus providing a strong motivation for the collection of  rich and consistent phenotypic data and microbiome samples from a broad range of individuals. In addition to expanding public microbiome resources for research purposes, The Microsetta Initiative is focused on population-specific educational resources with the hope of providing a means to teach people all over the world about the wonders that are microbes.

“One of the goals of The Microsetta Initiative is to explore how we can translate microbiome results across populations. And do to so, we need to engage with as many different populations as possible,” said Daniel McDonald, PhD, Scientific Director of the American Gut Project at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “The Philippines represents a tremendous opportunity to explore what lifestyle and health parameters appear variable thanks to the unique geography of the country as well as the being able to compare the data with those from the United States and United Kingdom.”

These microbiome efforts align with the strategic vision of the LifeScience Institute whose aim is to elevate the standard care within the region enabling healthcare practitioners to assess and address the underlying causes of chronic disease.

“The partnership with UC San Diego allows us to co-create more localized microbiome research, allowing us to establish a basis for deeper dives into the connections between chronic disease and the microbiome for our region,” said Dr. Raymond Escalona, the Director of Medical Education for the LifeScience Institute. “This will set the stage for capacitating healthcare practitioners with how the microbiome relates to chronic disease in the country. Our institute reaches a large portion of the population because of its Barangay Walang Iwanan (No One Gets Left Behind) Program—a 7-year initiative across 10,000 towns helping provide a Functional Nutrition assessment and intervention for each. This is fertile ground for microbiome sampling since it reaches across the 7,000 and more islands across the nation.”

The living data concept, embodied by many of UC San Diego's efforts such as the Earth Microbiome Project and GNPS, provide rich, open access datasets for academia and industry to use. These datasets are invaluable for the rapid expansion of human knowledge about microbiomes and their interaction with different environments, and ultimately are a cornerstone in transitioning microbiome research into the clinical space.

To learn more about The Microsetta Initiative, visit

To connect with the LifeScience Institute, contact

Media Contacts

Erin Bateman
Center for Microbiome Innovation

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