The Exposome: Measuring Multiple Factors Impacting Our Health

The ‘exposome’ is a measure of the effects of environmental exposures (including lifestyle factors) on health from conception throughout life and is a key determinant of chronic disease. The term was first coined by Dr. Christopher Wild, a cancer epidemiologist, in a 2005 article entitled “Complementing the Genome with an ‘Exposome’: The Outstanding Challenge of Environmental Exposure Measurement in Molecular Epidemiology.” Several initiatives focusing on the exposome have been launched in the U.S. over the last couple years. The National Academy of Sciences hosted a meeting in December of 2011 entitled “Emerging Technologies for Measuring Individual Exposomes.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed an overview, “Exposome and Exposomics”, which outlines the three priority areas for researching the occupational exposome as identified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has made investments in technologies that support exposome-related research, including biosensors, and supports research on gene-environment interactions. In May, 2013, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) awarded a Core Center Grant to Emory University that is focused on the exposome. The idea of a Human Exposome Project, analogous to the Human Genome Project, has been proposed and discussed in numerous scientific meetings, but has not yet been launched.

Read full article The Collaborative on Health and the Environment website.