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uBiome is a biotechnology company based in San Francisco that sequences samples of genetic material submitted by customers in order to give them a greater understanding of their human microbiome.[1][2] Participants swab samples of their feces, mouth, or skin and mail it to uBiome for analysis.[3][4] The company generated $350,000 through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and subsequently received venture capital funding.[5]


uBiome has received mixed reviews from the scientific community. The Wall Street Journal noted concerns that citizen science initiatives like uBiome may attract participants who do not understand the medical significance of their test results, since uBiome and its peer companies do not provide access to physicians or other experts who can explain how results uniquely affect an individual.[6] A Scientific American blog criticized company founders Zachary Apte and Jessica Richman on the grounds that they "weren’t very upfront about how they address ethical issues since they were working with human subjects."[7] Judy Stone called further attention to the company in a piece for Scientific American, calling uBiome CEO Jessica Richman "a great saleswoman who also excels at sounding innocent and playing the misunderstood victim in the ethical controversy surrounding her company."[8]


  1. ^ Chokkattu, Julian. "uBiome Raises $4.5M From Angel Investors, Andreessen Horowitz To Crowdsource Microbiome Research". TechCrunch. 
  2. ^ Moheb, Costandi (2013). "Citizen microbiome". Nature Biotechnology 31 (90): 90. doi:10.1038/nbt0213-90a. 
  3. ^ "Bacteria Health Benefits Microbiome Research". Oprah. 
  4. ^ Arthur, Charles (18 February 2013). "uBiome project will sequence the bacteria that share our bodies". Guardian (London). 
  5. ^ "ubiome will catalog your microbes again and again". MIT Technology Review. 
  6. ^ "The Ethics of Experimenting on Yourself". Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^ "On Ethics and Self-Policing in (Citizen) Science". The Urban Scientist (Scientific American). Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Stone, Judy. "uBiome: Ethical Lapse or Not?". Scientific American. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 

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