Bass Connections Students Return to Advance Smart Toilet Research, Remotely

October 13, 2020

The gut is like a reclusive celebrity: everyone is talking about her (the microbiome!), but we rarely catch a glimpse. Enter the Smart Toilet: a technology designed to capture data regarding individual health through precision analysis of wastewater coming out of toilet, without requiring us as users to change our daily routine.

The Smart Toilet offers insight into what’s happening in the gut, enabling early warning of colorectal cancer and management of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.  The impact of GI disease in the United States is enormous - resulting in more than 54 million ambulatory visits and 3 million hospital admissions annually and costing more than $135 billion in 2015.  Despite high medical costs, hundreds of thousands of lives are lost to GI disease each year.

The Smart Toilet Lab is thrilled to welcome a new cohort of Bass Connections students. Building on progress made last year and over the summer, six students (5 undergraduates and one graduate student) – including two returners – will advance research on the opportunities that the Smart Toilet platform technology offers for early detection of GI diseases.

Students are divided among three teams this year and are working remotely. The teams will develop sensor-based stool measurements using imaging and biochemical detection and evaluate the business case for the technology for non-communicable diseases.

Dr. Sonia Grego, the team lead, is excited about this year’s team. “Despite the challenges of COVID-19, this team is making great progress and working well together,” says Grego. “We are finding creative ways to do the research without the students physically being in the lab.”

For more information, please visit the Bass Connections project team overview.