There’s a new company with a dream: Fitbiomics. They aim to make a probiotics sports drink.
FitBiomics™ is a sports biotechnology company spinning out of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. We utilize next-generation sequencing to understand what makes elite athletes unique. In particular, we’re sequencing the microbiome of elite athletes to identify and isolate novel probiotic bacteria for applications in sports performance and recovery. We are purifying these novel probiotics and commercializing as ingredients to disrupt the sports nutrition market and cater to the next generation athlete.
Oooh. “Disrupt.” When the revolution comes and we truly disrupt the system, the people who use “disrupt” to describe peddling overpriced water are going to be among the first against the wall.
But hey, here’s a better translation from corporate-speak.
Certain bacteria show up more often in the poop of elite athletes than in the poop of sedentary people. So researchers theorized that a probiotic elixir containing components of elite athlete poop could help boost athletic performance and become the next hot sports drink.
Yeah. That’s going to be fun, selling Poopwater, the drink of champions.
Note, however, that they haven’t actually done any science to back up any claims of benefit. The guts of people who produce lots of lactate through exercise contain bacteria that thrive on lactate does not in any way imply that Dennis Kimetto’s performance is driven by his well-honed, skilled, disciplined poop.
Also, Fitbiomics looks rather dodgy. It doesn’t actually exist.
The Fitbiomics website lists Scheiman as CEO and Church, his mentor, as co-founder. To be more precise, Scheiman could become the CEO… if Fitbiomics gets funded. You see, Fitbiomics is not actually a company, at least not in the eyes of Harvard and the Wyss Institute. I stumbled on that surprise when I asked Mary Tolikas, Wyss Institute Director of Operations, why I couldn’t find any official disclosure of a financial interest on the part of Scheiman or Church (as distinct from their informal personal declarations).
“There is no company. There is no licensing agreement. There are no IP [intellectual property] assets or financial assets,” Tolikas said. She added that if they do seal a deal, they will move their work out of the Wyss Institute. Wyss Institute Administrative Director Ayis Antoniou also told me by email that faculty are required to disclose their financial interests and move their work out of the institute when they execute a licensing agreement with Harvard. “Prior to the financial interest being created, there is no conflict in the research activities under way, and thus no need for disclosures,” Antoniou wrote.
So it’s a placeholder website, with 10 employees, that has no scientific data backing up their premise, but this is apparently what the big name scientists are doing nowadays, corporatizing their results before they’ve got them.