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American Gut/uBiome: Most Unique Crowdfunding Campaigns of 2012
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American Gut/uBiome: Most Unique Crowdfunding Campaigns of 2012

Editor's Note: Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at some of the most successful, innovative, and unique crowdfunding campaigns of 2012. Last week’s category was “Most Funded,” and you can check out our recap with the year’s top five grossing campaigns here. This week’s category is "Most Unique" campaigns. The projects featured were chosen in a much more subjective manner than last week (which we selected by amount of money raised), so feel free to leave your own suggestions and links to favorite campaigns in the comments!

On their own, crowdfunding and citizen science are nothing new – hundreds of articles have been dedicated to both. Put the two together, though, and you’ve got an innovative crowdfunding campaign in which test subjects take on the role of the funders.

That’s exactly what two research teams did when they launched their crowdfunding campaigns – uBiome and American Gut – on Indiegogo within days of one another.

The goal for both teams is to get a better understanding of the microbiome. Microbiome is a collective term for the bacteria that live within and on us. Little is known about the microbiome, but it may influence everything from how we digest food, to our mood and even hereditary diseases. In order to understand exactly how the microbiome affect us, more samples are needed. That’s where uBiome and American Gut come in.

The premise for both campaigns is the same: backers can pledge a certain amount of money in return for a microbiome testing kit. When it arrives, they take a sample and send the kit back for analysis. Once the research teams check the samples, they send back detailed results, as well as comparative data. That data will be open for all to see (though no personal information will be stored), meaning those who want to get a better understanding of the microbiome can take the experiment one step further and draw their own conclusion from the findings.

Those who want to participate in the citizen science experiment can still do so: uBiome will run for a month and a half more, while American Gut has two and a half weeks before it closes. For more information about the projects, check out the campaign video for uBiome below (American Gut’s research team hasn’t made a video, but make sure to visit their campaign page here). 

We discussed the uBiome campaign in depth with the founders during on a recent edition of the Crowded Room podcast. The previous campaign we highlighted in the "Most Unique" category was Goodbye Promise, check it out here

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