Imagine your wanted to find out about the microbes living in your gut. How would you go about it? Do you have the resources you need to process a sample in the lab? To analyze the data once it's available? Most of us don't work in science labs where these kinds of processes are routine. So, how can we make it possible for everyone to be able to look at what lives in their gut? Large-scale projects to look at the human microbiome are funded by the government or private interests have typically recruited a relatively small number of individuals to participate. For example, in the Human Microbiome Project, which was a $173 million project funded by NIH we just looked at a total of 250 healthy people recruited from a very small catchment area around Washington University in St. Louis and Baylor College of Medicine, in Texas. So so these the restrictions on participations can be severe. In addition to living in a particular location, often the people that we're looking at are people with a specific disease that the scientists are studying, which excludes much of the general population. Or, that people who are rigorously screened to be healthy on every single body site, which may be excludes even more. So, the studies of the healthy human microbiome in particular the Human Microbiome project, often had strict selection criteria. In a addition to the accommodation of small number of participants total. And as I mentioned, one of the largest studies to date, the NIH's Human Microbiome project has looked so far at microbial communities at 15 bodies types in men, and 18 body types in women in, in 250 healthy individuals of whom data was reported for 242 healthy individuals in the initial paper. So, this is a tremendous amount of data. But 242 people is only handful fraction of the over 300 million people in the United States. So, what about the rest of us? How can those without specific diseases or not lucky enough to be selected for some of these studies find out what's in their guts? Well, public interest in scientific endeavors is rapidly increasing. And more and more people, like those of you taking this course, are becoming active citizen scientists and contributing to the scientific enterprise. This has really enabled techniques like crowdsourcing and crowdfunding of science. You've probably seen sites like Indiegogo and FundRazr, or Kick Starter where people ask the public at large to donate to support a project. It's difficult for one person or one organization to fund production of a movie or an art exhibit, or a large scale scientific study. But, if many people give small donations, it really adds up at the time. Donations of certain amounts in these projects typically come with perks. Which loads, which loads of people who are donating can choose to receive or not. These perks can be t-shirts, stickers, or in the case of the American Gut Project characterization of the microbiome. But it's not just about the funding. This model allows anyone to participate in the scientific study and find out what's in their gut. So the American Gut Project, which I co-founded with Jeff Leech about, a little over a year and a half ago, seeks to characterize the human microbiome on a massive scale. And anyone can participate. To date, over 8,000 people have generously donated to the American Gut project. And an overwhelming number have claimed a perk, seeking to characterize the microbes in their own gut or their children's or in some cases even their pet's. In addition to being interested in the microbes in members of their family. Often people include the very the include the very their family as something that we want to do, so that make American gut the largest crowd funded citizen science project that we're aware of. So, so as of right now over 3,000 people have had their stool samples analyzed with the data made available to everyone including scientists, educators and interested members of the public. And we also make the complete processing pipeline freely available to everyone, starting with the data in the public repositories, and then using open source software to go all the way through to the processed results, and we release specs to participants, and we release to the scientific community at large to communicate the findings from this project. What's exciting about this is that the more people per, or the more people who participate the more informative the results become. The crowd sourced and crowd funded model of the American Gut Project enables everyone to participate as a citizen scientist. As we try to figure out exactly what that three plus pounds of microbes are doing in the human body. As the study continues to grow, we'll become more informative and allow us to better understand how the microbiome affects our health. Now that you know what the American Gut Project is, we'll spend the later, we'll spend the next lecture talking about how exactly it works when someone, when someone turns up. But first we'll hear from Nobel Laureate Tom Cech, who's the director of the Biofrontiers Institute. Where where, where much of the work for American Gut takes place. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1989, for discovering that RNA previously thought to be largely an inert messenger in the cell, could actually be a catalyst. And amazingly, that it could combine that hereditary material and the enzymatic activity right there in the same molecule. Providing a potential pathway for the origins of life itself. So, so, Thomas is going to share with us his vision for for, for the potential of the kind of interdisciplinary research. Those required not just to tackle the microbiome, but all kinds of other hab problems, in biological systems and in medicine. And in particular, share with us his, his vision of the kind of interdisciplinary education program that is required to train the next generation of scientists. Perhaps including you. To be able to carry out these kinds of highly interconnected, highly disciplinary, research projects requiring all kinds of sophisticated combinations of biology, computer science, ecology, chemistry genetics. Genomics and all of these other disciplines.