The microbiome is a term used to describe all of the microbes, like bacteria, parasites, and viruses, that live in and on the human body. Our study focuses on the gut microbiome, which is the community of microbes that live in the gastrointestinal tract.
Immigrant Microbiome Project
healthy guts, healthy world
Exploring how westernization affects the gut microbiome and health
The microbiome is defined as the community of all microbes (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi) that live in and on the human body. Our study focuses on the gut microbiome, which are the microbes resident in the human gastrointestinal tract.
The gut microbiome is essential for:
immune system development
metabolism (e.g. break down of dietary fibers)
protection against pathogens
and many other functions
Your microbiome develops from the day you are born and reaches maturity around age
3 to 4.
Host genetics and external factors (diet, antibiotics, the environment, etc.) drives changes in your gut microbiome.
As a result, people from very different parts of the world have very different gut microbiomes.
Our Research Study
We are interested in determining how the gut microbiome changes with migration between drastically different environments, and how these changes may contribute to changes in health. In our study, we will answer the following questions:
How quickly does the microbiome adapt after migration?
Can we find microbes that correlate with obesity?
Are these microbiome changes preserved over generations?
Does dietary fiber preserve the native gut microbiome?
By studying the following four groups:
Long-term resident foreign-born
migrated > 2 yrs old migrated < 2 yrs old
American-born (2nd generation)
Pre-immigration gut microbiomes
Western gut microbiomes
This research is funded by grants from the UMN Clinical and Translational Science Institute, UMN Institute on Diversity, Equity and Advocacy, UMN Healthy Foods Healthy Lives Institute, and the UMN Graduate School.
The IMP logo was designed by Annie Au.
Icons used throughout this website have been designed by Freepik.
Join our study!
We would like to invite you to participate in a research study that determines the microbiome of Hmong and Karen women and its relationship to obesity risk. To participate, we will ask you to donate a single stool sample (1 gram), get your weight, height, and waist measured, and participate in a 15-minute in-person interview. In compensation for your time and efforts, you will receive a $25 pre-paid credit card.
Any Hmong or Karen woman who has arrived in the last two months can enroll in a 6-month study where they will donate 6 stool samples (1 per month) and take a 15-minute survey 6 times (1 per month). In compensation for their time and efforts, they will receive up to $200 in pre-paid credit cards.
To participate, please contact:
Meet Our Team
Frequently asked questions
I was born in Laos and I have lived in the US for 45 years, do I qualify?
Yes, as long as you meet our age requirements (18 - 65 yrs old) you can participate.
I was born in France/Australia/(some other country not in Southeast Asia), do I qualify?
No, unfortunately we are controlling for region of origin and are only looking at those from Southeast Asia.
I thought your study was only recruiting newly arrived Hmong and Karen?
We started the project recruiting only new arrivals, but we have expanded the study.
Isn't diet a huge factor? Are you controlling for that somehow?
As part of our survey, we will be doing a 24-hr dietary recall in order to analyze how diet changes with residency in the US.
I was born in the US and my parents were also born in the US, can I participate?
No. Unfortunately we're only looking at the 2nd generation. We hope to include more generations in the future.
How much is 1 gram of stool?
It depends on the consistency of the stool but in general, roughly the size of a few grains of rice.