Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quantified Self and The Microbiome One Year in The Making

With a custom iPhone app and a year of daily gut microbiome data from Eric Alm et al. at MIT, this video from the 2012 GET Conference (recorded April 25, 2012) shows:
  • His human microbiome is stable over a year
  • Temporal variation within his microbiome is lower than human-to-human variation
  • Fiber has an effect on microbial community structure
  • Travel affects gut microbiome 

A panel of pioneers in "The Quantified Self" movement (self-tracking of health/disease) then meet at the GET Conference to talk about what they have done and learned in the process of self-tracking, including Eric and Larry Smarr. Eric talks more about how the gut microbiome surprisingly stays stable over time. Its resilient. One of the most interesting points in the panel discussion occurs at 7:57 by Larry. He raises the prospect that self-tracking can become the norm and its benefit is that we'll see the onset of disease way before symptoms ever occur. I agree with this. The microbial flora will unquestionably show changes prior to our body ever feeling the negative outcomes. The upshot is that this could lead to preventive medicine in which doctors and patients tweek the microbiome back to normal before something makes us feel ill. Fascinating.

After watching this, you will see that "Medicine 2.0" (web 2.0 + participatory, self-tracking + doctors) is on the horizon.


  1. The quantified self gives a whole new meaning to self publishing.

  2. Indeed Ethan. Well said. Wouldnt it be excellent to set up a lab where all you study is yourself the entire time?


  4. Excellent video and post. I like the idea of self-tracking over time and feeding that data into a repository so that we can learn more.