With the word “exposome” we refer to the sum of all exposures (from conception onwards) of an individual, with particular focus on critical periods of life, e.g. in utero or in childhood. This is a new branch of environmental epidemiology that couples large population studies with technological developments, including the use of “sensors” and the measurement of molecules in the body. In the Molecular Signatures and Disease Pathways programme at the MRC Centre for Environment and Health we aim to improve our understanding of the causal link between exposures to common environmental contaminants and diseases, by characterizing the individuals’ external and internal exposome.
Our research involves large population studies with collection of biological samples, using novel study designs and advanced multi-omic technologies (including epigenetics, proteomics, transcriptomics or metabolomics) to identify biomarkers of exposure and/or disease.
The ultimate goal of this research is to reduce uncertainties in assessing the risk related to common environmental contaminants, by characterising the molecular signatures (biomarkers) of these exposures and identifying plausible pathways or networks through which they lead to disease initiation or progression. We are also exploring new approaches to measuring external exposures, including the use of silicone wristbands and other sensors.
Paolo Vineis is Chair of Environmental Epidemiology at Imperial College London and Visiting Scientist at the Italian Institute of Technology (Genova). He is a leading researcher in the field of molecular epidemiology and his latest research focuses on environmental exposures and intermediate markers from ‑omic platforms in large epidemiological studies. He also investigates the effects of climate change on non-communicable diseases. Paolo Vineis is coordinator of the European Commission funded Exposomics (on air pollution) and Lifepath (H2020, on socio-economic inequalities and ageing) projects, both based on the development of omic technologies, and is a principal investigator or co-investigator of numerous international projects. He has more than 1000 publications in journals such as Nature, Science, Lancet, and Lancet Oncology. He is the author of “Health without Borders. Epidemics in the Era of Globalization”, Springer 2017.