News Releases

uBiome Awards Grant to UWI to Study the gut of childhood asthma

For Release Upon Receipt - December 3, 2018

St. Augustine

Researchers to chart the relationship between microbial diversity and asthma

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. December 3, 2018 – Through its Microbiome Grant Initiative, uBiome, the leader in microbial genomics, will support researchers from the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus. Led by Dr. Elaine Monica Davis, Lecturer of Physiology, and Mr. Cerano Da Silva, graduate research student, the group will study the emergence of histamine-secreting gut microbiota as a factor in childhood asthma.

The goal of the study is to quantify any differences in histamine-secreting gut microbiota and dysbiosis of gut microbes between asthmatic and non-asthmatic children living in Trinidad. These researchers hope this study will lay the foundation for further research on how alteration of the gut microbiome might affect asthma and possibly provide new therapeutic avenues.

Data collected from the study will include microbiome composition from uBiome’s patented kits, the genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases, and lung function status. The team hypothesizes that these factors may contribute to the high prevalence and severity of allergic asthma in the Caribbean region.

“We are proud to support The University of West Indies in their investigation to better understand the relationship between asthma severity and microbial diversity, which has yet to be explored in children,” said Jessica Richman, PhD, co-founder and CEO of uBiome, who will be supporting the study design, planning, sample collection, and analysis.

Dr. Davis, MBBS, MPhil, is a former Associate Dean of Communications, Public Relations and Special Projects at The UWI and Senior Lecturer in the MSc. Environmental Engineering programme. Dr Davis is supervising Mr. Da Silva, her graduate research student who is also the Global Asthma Network representative to Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Da Silva has an academic background in Biology and Environmental Sciences, and was awarded prizes for the best Year 3 student and best overall performance for his undergraduate studies in Biology from The UWI. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Human Physiology and has selected this novel investigative biome research for his thesis, which he proposes to continue to a Doctoral degree.

“We have been able to provide the means whereby asthmatic children in Trinidad will know the types of environmental allergens which may be responsible for triggering an asthmatic attack, which will result in better asthma management through mitigation, along with determining the extent to which their lung function has been compromised by having this condition. Now, through the amazing help from uBiome we have access to advanced technological methods to determine whether the gut microbiome is possibly contributing to the increasing prevalence and severity of asthma in children in the Caribbean,” Mr. Da Silva said.

Through its Microbiome Grant Initiative, uBiome has awarded millions of dollars in research support to hundreds of investigators around the world at renowned academic institutions and not-for-profit research organizations, including Harvard University, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California, San Francisco, Oxford University, and the University of Sydney. Awards include patented microbiome sequencing kits, as well as research support in study design, planning, sample collection, and analysis. To learn more about our award process or to submit a grant proposal, visit


About uBiome

Founded in 2012, uBiome is the leader in microbial genomics. The Company’s mission is to advance the science of the microbiome and make it useful to people. uBiome combines its patented proprietary precision sequencing™ with machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop wellness products, clinical tests, and therapeutic targets. uBiome has filed for over 250 patents on its technology, which includes sample preparation, computational analysis, molecular techniques, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

uBiome’s commercial products include SmartGut™, the world’s first sequencing-based clinical microbiome test, which identifies microbes in the gut for patients with chronic gut conditions such as IBD, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis; SmartJane™, the first sequencing-based women’s health screening test, which genotypes all 19 clinically relevant strains of HPV, identifies four common STDs, and surveys more than 20 vaginal microbes associated with bacterial vaginosis and other conditions; and Explorer™, a health and wellness product to understand the role that food and lifestyle can play in wellness.

uBiome’s platform has been used by hundreds of thousands of consumers, patients, and doctors and more than 200 research institutions around the world, including the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Harvard University, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California, San Francisco, Oxford University, and the University of Sydney.

Since its launch, the company has received widespread recognition including CNN 10: Startups to Watch, the IVY Technology Award, CNN Future 30, and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Healthcare in 2016 and in Data Science in 2018, as well as a Technology Pioneer from the World Economic Forum in 2018. For more information, visit




About The UWI


Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website: 


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)