Decoding the exposome

Exposome-NL is a Dutch consortium of over fifty scientists from different disciplines, universities and medical centres. Together the scientists will systematically sequence the environmental factors influencing our health: the exposome.

New concept
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 relatively new 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. 

Origin of chronic diseases
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.

Gravitation programme
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.