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. Please note the proposed protocol below will be followed once we are ready to LAUNCH the project. If you are registered on our site, you will be notified as soon as we launch, and only then will the consent form and questionnaires be available to you.

The proposed protocol:

  1. Register on the website and create a login.
  2. Read through the online informed consent form, and sign the form electronically if you wish to take part in the study.
  3. We will inform you once the questionnaires are ready.
  4. Fill out all the questionnaires online.
  5. We will contact you to arrange for a stool sampling kit to be delivered to you (all courier costs are covered by saNeuroGut).
  6. Collect your stool sample at home (within 4 days of filling out the questionnaires) as described in the clear instructions included in the stool samples collection kit.
  7. Notify the courier to collect your stool sample as soon as possible.
  8. We receive the stool sample in our laboratory and store it securely in a freezer.
  9. We extract the 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.
  10. The researcher extracts the bacterial DNA from your stool sample.
  11. The extracted DNA is sent to a reputable company that performs sequencing analysis on the sample, in order for us to identify which bacteria are present in your stool sample.
  12. The company sends us the sequencing data, which we use to determine which bacteria are present, and at what level they are present in your gut microbiota.
  13. 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 with your particular gut microbiota make-up.
  14. 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 community. The findings will also be communicated to the study participants during formal feedback sessions, where the overall findings will be presented (not individually, per participant). Lastly, we will relay our findings to the general public through different media platforms.