Getting Your Microbes Analyzed Raises Big Privacy Issues
by Rob Stein
November 04, 2013
the American Gut Project, one of a couple of “citizen science” or crowdsourced microbiome projects.
Organizers of the American Gut Project are recruiting thousands of people to donate their microbes to science — along with lots of personal information — to help researchers learn more about the trillions of microbes that inhabit the human body.
After spending a week carefully logging the details of everything I ate and drank, I used the swab to collect a fecal sample and mailed it off for analysis.
While I was waiting for the results, I spent some time talking to bioethicists about some concerns I had heard about participating in these projects.
“I think sending pieces of your microbiome in to be analyzed and posted along with your health information is not for the faint of heart,” said Hank Greely, a bioethicist at Stanford University.