‘Stick out your tongue’: CRG citizen science project

By January 23, 2017CRG


‘Stick out your tongue’ (‘Saca la lengua’) is a citizen’s science project initiative by CRG that aims to study the mouth’s microbiome and its possible relationship with our environmental characteristics and lifestyle.

Recent scientific studies have highlighted the importance of the set of micro-organisms that live in our bodies, our “human microbiome”, in determining both health and illnesses. In reality, we have more bacteria cells in our bodies than human cells. It is logical that these microorganisms have an enormous influence on us, ranging from protecting us from certain illnesses, helping our digestion, causing diseases (either directly or indirectly), and determining our preferences, such as taste. Scientists are now beginning to look into this and in fact have already developed therapies involving transplanting a “healthy” faecal microbiome into patients to treat intestinal infections.

During the first running of ‘stick out your tongue’, in 2015, over 1,500 samples taken from students ages 14-15 and 20 of their teachers were analysed. Over the course of the project, some 3,000 students were familiarized with the world of research in general, and that of the microbiome in particular.

The data make up a high-resolution description of the oral microbiome composition in a fundamentally healthy adolescent population in Spain.

In 2016, with support from la Caixa Foundation, a second running of ‘stick out your tongue’ was launched. This time, with a clear picture of a healthy microbiome’s diversity, the scientific goal is to make the most of the existing potential through the expansion of the sample to other population groups.

This is not only a scientific project, but a citizen science project that lets scientists work side-by-side with members of society. As in the first running, this second round will involve the public at different levels and the initiative will run its various phases until June 2018.

Find more information about this project and how to participate here.