Exposome-NL is a Dutch consortium of internationally-renowned scientists from exposure science, environmental sciences, cardiovascular and metabolic health, clinical epidemiology, nutritional epidemiology, geosciences, agent-based modelling, molecular biology, chemistry, and bio-informatics and biostatistics. Together the scientists from different Dutch universities and medical centres focus on the exposome.
Our health is shaped by environmental factors that we humans are exposed to on a daily basis: what we eat, the air we breathe, our social interactions and lifestyle choices such as smoking and exercising. It explains an estimated seventy percent of the chronic disease burden. Since most aspects of our environment are modifiable, this provides a huge potential for disease prevention.
Leading scientist in Europe and the USA have formalised the sum of all these environmental drivers of health and diseases as the exposome. The exposome concept is trying to capture everything to understand which, how, in what quantities, and in what circumstances environmental drivers have an effect on our health. Interacting with the genome, it defines individual health at different stages throughout the life course.
Much remains to be discovered about the exposome, and therefore about the development of chronic diseases. The scientists will apply innovative techniques to investigate which factors of the exposome are important for health and how these factors work. The consortium will start with research into the causes of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The techniques and insights from this research will also be applicable to other chronic conditions.
Core financial backing has come from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), which in 2019 awarded Exposome-NL a subsidy of 17,4 million euro from its ‘Gravitation' programme. The participating institutes themselves are contributing an additional 8 million euros.
We know far less about the exposome than we do about the human genome. So far, we only understand about half of the disease burden for which we know the environment plays a role. If we want to prevent people from becoming ill, then we need to understand the other half too. We therefore want to systematically analyse the exposome for the first time. We will start with research into the causes of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The techniques and insights from this research will also be applicable to other chronic conditions.Read More