MMM-led Citizen Science project BashTheBug.net wins NIHR award

BashTheBug.net is a Citizen Science website that allows anyone with access to the internet and a laptop or tablet to help in the fight against antibiotic resistance. You are shown photographs of a series of wells, each of which has a small amount of the bacterium that causes Tuberculosis and a different dose of one of 14 different antibiotics. Your job is then to decide if any bacteria are growing in any of the wells,and if they are, which is the first well (and therefore the lowest dose of antibiotic) that kills the bug.

BashTheBug.net, which is run by MMM researcher Philip Fowler, was launched in April 2017 and in the following five months over 6,300 citizen scientists have contributed, between them classifying over 350,000 photographs. Each image is shown 15 times to different people and the hope is that the resulting consensus will be as accurate, if not more, than a single reading done by an experienced lab technician.

Earlier this week the NIHR announced that BashTheBug had won the Online Community award of its Let’s Get Digital competition. Competition was fierce, with 165 entrants and 2,251 votes cast. This award recognises the hard work put in by all the citizen scientists who have kindly volunteered their time working on this Citizen Science project.

Expert judge Verity Cardenas, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Programme Manager at Google, said:

> “I really like the active engagement of users on the website with a step by step understanding of what is required of a volunteer. This gives me a feel for what it is like to be involved in clinical research”.

All the images classified so far by BashTheBug have come from CRyPTIC, a large international consortium studying Tuberculosis that is led by MMM. Over the next few years we hope our citizen scientists will help us study in ever more detail how different strains of M.tuberculosis grow and which antibiotics would be most effective at treating any resulting infection. This will require several million more classifications!

For more information about BashTheBug, please head over to its blog  – to try it out press the red button –  or check out its Twitter feed. The BashTheBug project is hosted by The Zooniverse, the world’s largest and most popular platform for Citizen Science and is supported by the Oxford BRC which is funded by the NIHR.
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