South African citizens now have the opportunity to contribute to science (conducted by South Africans for South Africans).

The South African Microbiome Initiative in Neuroscience is a unique research project that will delve into the complex connections between the brain and the gut, by recruiting South African participants on a large scale and correlating their gut microbial compositions to health, cognitive and psychiatric data. Not only does this enable participants to contribute directly to science, but they also have the opportunity to learn more about their gut microbiota and how the gut microbiota influences health and disease.

No need to worry about confidentiality, all participant information will be de-identified and kept confidential. If you are interested in participating in this exciting SA-first research, please click on the Login/Register button on the home page.

The proposed protocol:

  1. You register on the website and create a login.
  2. You fill out all the questionnaires online.
  3. We contact you to arrange for a sampling packet to be delivered to you.
  4. You collect your stool sample at home using the sampling kit and instructions we send you.
  5. You immediately place the collection system, containing your stool sample, in a freezer and make sure it is frozen solid.
  6. We arrange with you for collection of your stool sample.
  7. We receive the stool sample in our laboratory and store it securely in a freezer.
  8. We extract your data from the questionnaires you completed online – only your anonymous participant ID will be visible to the laboratory researchers; your name and all
    your data will be kept confidential.
  9. The researcher extracts all the bacterial DNA from your stool sample.
  10. The extracted DNA is sent to a reputable company that performs sequencing analysis on the sample, in order for us to identify which bacteria is present in your stool
  11. The company sends us the sequencing data, which we use to determine which bacteria, and at what level they are present in your gut microbiota.
  12. The gut microbiota data is analysed together with the questionnaire data in order to see which factors (such as diet, stress, sleep, disease etc.) are associated your particular gut microbiota make-up.
  13. Some of the data generated during this study will be presented in scientific publications (scientific journals) and at scientific conferences in order to share our interesting findings with the scientific communities. The findings will also be communicated to the study participants during formal feedback sessions, where the findings will be presented overall (not individually, per participant). Lastly, we will relay our findings to the general public through different media platforms.