NAU Researchers Part of Gut Project

Dec 7, 2012

Now, it’s time for a gut check. Literally.  A researcher at Northern Arizona University is working with a team of scientists trying to unravel what lives inside our guts.

And they want you and 10,000 other Americans to help. 

It’s called the American Gut project.

Researchers want to establish what a healthy intestinal environment looks like by analyzing the DNA of bacteria and other microbes living inside us.

They hope to be able to identify abnormal microbial environments that might be contributing to diseases like obesity and diabetes.

They’re also hoping to find out what role diet plays in intestinal health. 

But doing all that requires some major number crunching.

And that’s where NAU biology and computer science assistant professor Greg Caporaso and his students come in.

“We’ll generate hundreds or thousands of gigabytes of DNA sequenced data over the course of this project. It takes advanced computational techniques and advanced statistical methods to analyze that data,” Caporaso says.

If you want to find out what’s living in your gut, you’ll have to send in a stool sample and pay a DNA analysis fee that starts at $99.

To find out more about this citizen science experiment, you can go to the project Web site at