American Gut: Redefining Human
$2,618 raised
10% of $25k goal
52 contributors
4 Years running
A film series about the Human Microbiome Project and the 100 trillion bacteria that live inside us, govern our health, and challenge what we define as "human".

"What if I told you your body is only about 10% human cells?"

 A film series about the Human Microbiome Project and the 100 trillion bacteria that live inside us, govern our health, and challenge what we define as "human".

 Find us on Twitter @redefininghuman.

What is the Human Microbiome Project?

Launched in 2008, the Human Microbiome Project is a NIH-sponsored study to determine how the human microbiome(that 100 trillion strong army of bacteria) impacts disease, food allergies, and neurological issues within the human body.

An offshoot of the Human Microbiome Project is the American Gut project, a collaboration between the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Chicago. The American Gut project hopes to map the human microbiome and provide open-access data analysis so scientists all over the world can begin to study the microbiome and how it affects us.

American Gut has been covered in The Smithsonian, New York Times, NPR, and The New Yorker and championed by Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore's Dillema.


Here's a short overview article by Scientific American.

Why Should I Care?

Already studies have shown that the microbiome has an astounding impact upon our health and what we define as “human”. Almost like a microbial organ, the microbiome helps us digest foods, regulates our metabolism, and fights off infection. A poor functioning microbiome has been linked to allergies, celiac disease, diabetes, and immunodeficiency.

Very little is known about the microbiome and even less has been shared with the public. With a series of creative, short films, we can make this research even more accessible and inform millions about the importance and power of the microbes in their guts.

We want to harness the power of film to widely distribute this emerging science. However, very little grant dollars or funding goes towards science communication. With your help we can translate this complex data into an accessible, compelling short film series to share this revolutionary project and inspire the next generation of scientists.


What We Plan To Discuss

Here are some stories based on the American Gut research that we want to tell through the films:


Wellness: Food, Obesity, & Allergies

Emerging studies show that a healthy microbiome helps to regulate our weight, digest foods, and fight off disease. When imbalanced, our microbiome cannot function properly, which has been shown to create food allergies, chronic illness, and even obesity. We plan on investigating how the microbiome and our health is affected by the diet we choose to maintain, such as a gluten-free, Paleo, and the American Standard Diet.


Nature Deficit: Kids in the Environment

Did you know that a baby’s microbiome is seeded by its mother? While growing in the womb and while passing through the birth canal it picks up an enormous variety of microbes, which leads to the formation of its own microbiome and sets the foundation for its health. We will explore how the microbiome affects development in children and what can be done to make your child healthier and free of illness.


Forensics: Microbial CSI & New Forms of Identification

Microbiome makeup is incredibly unique to each individual, almost like a fingerprint. We will show how forensic investigators can use a corpse’s microbiome to estimate time of death, decomposition, and identify the body.


How Can I Help?

Reaching our initial goal of $25,000 will allow us to produce the first film in the series, "Pro-Biotic: Cultivating a Healthy Gut” which will reveal the connections between our diet, our lifestyle, where we live, our gut's microbial ecosystem, and our health.

To create the full film series that will explore the different areas of this cutting edge research and its game-changing implications, we need to raise $75,000. With this level of funding, we will produce the full series:  American Gut: Redefining Human that will be distributed to homes, offices, and classrooms around the world.


In addition to donations, it would be an enormous help if you could share our goal. Word of mouth, emails to friends and family, and reaching out to us on Twitter @redefininghuman would make a huge difference and help us bring this film series to fruition.

If you have any suggestions about the series or would like help us in a deeper way, please reach out to

The American Gut Project itself has successfully crowdsourced both funding and data- it is the largest crowdfunded science project in the world. Check out their Fundrazr.


Stretch Goals

$1,000: We will post a live video of what goes into sampling someone's gut microbes. Gross? We'll see!


$5,000: Creative Director, Ian Scott, will play a prank on one of the lead scientists in the American Gut lab. 


$20,000: At this mark, we will post a video of one (1) chugging contest among the production team. The drink of choice? Thick, delicious, probiotic yogurt drinks. Yum! What happens next, we're unsure.


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$5 USD
I give a poo, gosh dang it!
  • 1 claimed
Thank you for helping spread the word about this amazing new science! We'll keep you up to date on the upcoming video series to make sure you're the first of your friends to brag about your new, cutting edge knowledge.
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$10 USD
I'll chase free-range chickens & yell your name!
  • 6 claimed
Our lead animator will give you a shout out while chasing free-range chickens around a local organic farm, where natural microbes reign supreme!

Don't worry. We'll send you the ridiculous video.
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$15 USD
Immortalize your name for history to see!
  • 1 claimed
Immortalize your name on the American Gut website next to legends Michael Pollan, Rob Knight, and others! Years from now, when people look back to see the founding fathers of this science, there you will be, written in digital stone.
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$20 USD
  • 22 claimed
Get all rewards from $0-$99!
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$25 USD
Mama Song’s Secret Family Kimchi Recipe
  • 7 claimed
Increase your microbe health with the original delicious probiotic! Seriously, she would kill us if she knew we were giving this out...
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$25 USD
Microbe Boost: Mama Mather’s Sourdough Starter
  • 1 claimed
Win over your kids or in-laws with Mama Mather’s Insanely Good Sourdough-Starter Recipe for a stronger gut.
Another secret family recipe, this loaf will take your home cooking to the next level.
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$50 USD
Above + ADVANCED HD Digital Download
  • 5 claimed
Be first to stream or download the series in HD! You'll have to hire a bouncer to fight off all the eager friends who want to crash your viewing party! (bouncer not included)
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$99 USD
HD DL + we will cover topics YOU are interested in
  • 2 claimed
Cast your vote for any topics that catch your attention in this vast, uncharted territory of science, and we will cover them in our series. Obesity? Forensics? Crrohn's Disease? You name it, and we'll do our best to bring it to a screen near you!
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$100 USD
Help science educators get FREE coursework packs!
  • 2 claimed
Education is the key to improving tomorrow's world. We want to help educators get access to the best materials available in order to keep curriculum current.
The more backers we get for this perk, the more packets we will be able to distribute to educators who have the power to revolutionize how kids learn about health, disease, and the world around them. We will send them the world's leading science on these topics, accompanied with graphics, video, and creative ideas on how to communicate this science to today's youth.
Be a part of the future of science education!

And of course, we will send you an HD copy of the completed series!
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$120 USD
Producer's Pick: Limited-edition t-shirt + more!
  • 5 claimed
Take your pick from one of our limited-edition designs & up your swag game with an extra-soft, premium shirt, blending science with style.
Once claimed, we will email you to setup your order!

Oh yea, and we'll send you:
1) The completed series in HD
2) The secret family recipes
3) Add your name to the "Chicken List" from Perk #2
4) Add your name to the "Founders List" from Perk #3

And of course, we will send you an HD copy of the completed series!
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$150 USD
HD DL + caricature of you or anyone you choose!
  • 1 claimed
Along with an HD copy of the series, our creative team will draw a caricature portrait of you or anyone you choose & send it to you. Trust us, it will be guaranteed to bust your gut laughing!

And of course, we will send you an HD copy of the completed series!
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$200 USD
HD DL + your name in the film credits!
  • 1 claimed
Immortalize your name with a "special thanks" listing at the end of each film! And no, we will NOT cram all names into a hyper-speed scroll. We want everyone to be able to brag to their friends and family about this one!

And of course, we will send you an HD copy of the completed series!
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$500 USD
**PICK 5**
  • 0 claimed
Take your choice of any 5 perks from $0-$200!
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$1,000 USD
Private screening & catered dinner party!
  • 0 claimed
Come hang out with the production and research teams of the American Gut! Dinner, drinks, and a screening of the series! Party on, crowdfunders!

And of course, we will send you an HD copy of the completed series!
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$1,500 USD
Receive Official Producer Credit in the Series!
  • 0 claimed
Receive a rare opportunity for an official credit as ASSOCIATE PRODUCER of the American Gut series!

And of course, we will send you an HD copy of the completed series!
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$10,000 USD
  • 0 claimed
Be our official sponsor & we'll put your name or company logo at start credits and give you and EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit! Damn!

And of course, we will send you an HD copy of the completed series!
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