Science

Your Samples: From Privacy to Precision

By Victoria Frankel

woman looking at her results on phone

We built Viome to be a visionary company, determined to make an impact on health, nutrition, and chronic disease. To do this, we’ve had to bring together the best minds in AI engineering, microbiology, clinical nutrition, and create a team of hardworking individuals to build the Viome we see today.

But through it all, it was the science that helped Viome break through the noise. In a world where our healthcare system focuses on treating symptoms and monitoring disease, we were convinced of the value of nutrition as preventative medicine - but it is the gut microbiome and its secrets that are making that dream a reality.

The overwhelming output of research in this field has only further inspired us to keep going. Our products - and future products - are a combination of our dedication and optimism about the gut microbiome’s impact on health. 

But to make our products work, we require a team of highly specialized lab scientists working behind the scenes to evaluate, analyze, and assess your Viome tests. Furthermore, we also take additional steps to assure the privacy of your samples is kept tightly wrapped under lock and key.

Welcome to our Lab

One of the most common questions we get about our Lab Team is, what are their backgrounds?

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Many of our Lab Team are highly skilled technicians of our lab equipment and research scientists. Our lab employs scientists with a diverse array of backgrounds, anywhere from immunology, organic chemistry, hematology, microbiology and molecular chemistry backgrounds. Paired with best-in-class testing equipment, our laboratories can conduct X amount of samples in a single week.

Just this summer, our laboratory moved across the country and settled right down the road from our corporate headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. This move included the purchase of even more equipment and increased our staff size to help us analyze even more samples in record time. 

But this is only the beginning of your test’s journey through our doors.

From mRNA to Data

Just think for a moment: your sample starts as a tangible, biological sample. It’s something your own body produces - and as it completes its steps through our lab, the result is a digital footprint of how your body and gut interact with foods you eat.

To gather this data, develop trends, build your personalized recommendations and still maintain your privacy, your sample must travel across the lab and make its way through all four of our laboratory departments.

First Department: Accessioning and Receiving

This is where we receive your test samples each day. From there, several different parcel and mail delivery services from all across the world drop off your samples. Before receiving them, our system has already exchanged your personal information with a reference number completely unique to you. These numerical identifiers provide complete anonymity through the laboratory process and assures that the accessioning team don’t see or work with client names at all, even through our AI bioinformatics system. 

At no point in the laboratory do we know whose sample we are handling, maintaining that we are more concerned about the integrity of the sample. 

Second Department: PCR - Prep

The ‘Polymerase Chain Reaction’ (or PCR) - referencing the technology we use to calculate mRNA expression - department is a very important next step for your sample. Your mRNA levels help us to identify your gut’s

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microbiome gene expression and activity. In this department, our scientists work in a very clean, clinical environment while adhering to regulations structured through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA). At many points, our Lab Team does thorough quality control reviews to ensure best laboratory practices are maintained. 

Also in this department, we have our automation team which consists of several mechanical and electrical engineers, and a number of Hamilton liquid handler software and instrumentation specialists. This team constantly works on optimizing our unique method used to extract microbial RNA and human gene expression. They are always present in the laboratory and help assist with maintenancing our wide variety of lab instruments.

Third Department: Reagents

Many scientific labs require specially formulated chemicals and solutions to help process biological samples. In this department, we formulate all the reagents (chemical mixtures) that we use for testing into very unique vessels that can be used to process your test kit samples. Our technologists must have a very thorough knowledge of sterile techniques to keep our solutions effective. 

Fourth Department: Sequencing

As Anel Visser, our Director of Laboratory Operations likes to say, “This is where the ‘magic’ happens.

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Only a handful of scientists have the authority to enter this department - and they must have a highly sought after level of molecular clinical background. Those that are chosen have extensive experience and work 1-on-1 with the lead scientists and technical directors of the laboratory.

The Viome lab has undergone 3 separate state and CLIA inspections so far this year, and we’re proud to announce that we received only positive reports back from both NYSDOH, Washington State Department of Health, and New Mexico CLIA (when we were located there in the beginning of 2021).

Together, each department follows strict guidelines to ensure your samples are handled properly, safely, and discreetly for maximum security and privacy, while simultaneously treating your samples with unparalleled precision to generate your personalized Viome recommendations.

The information on the Viome website is provided for informational purposes only and with the understanding that Viome is not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Viome provides this educational information to share the exciting developments being reported in the scientific literature about the human microbiome and your health. Viome products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.