The Exposome: from concept to practice

Aim of the workshop. This workshop will focus on recently begun efforts on bringing the exposome from concept to practice as a tool to discover novel associations between environmental factors and human health. Through presentations of differing approaches we want to explore the practical implementation of the exposome concept into ongoing studies around the globe. What are the challenges and potential solutions to advance the incorporation of the exposome into studies of environmental health?

Summary  The concept of the exposome was initially described by Christopher Wild as the environmental correlate of the genome; the totality of environmental factors an individual encounters over their life-course and their impact on health.  While this is a grand and clearly important goal, it is not feasible given the current state of environmental exposure assessment technologies and analytical methods.  An alternative perspective is to focus on implementing the exposome concept as the environmental correlate of the Genome Wide Association Study, by which it becomes a tool for the untargeted discovery of associations between environmental factors and human health endpoints and for the generation of hypotheses that can be explored using more focused mechanistic and epidemiological investigations.  Recent efforts supported by government agencies in both North America and Europe have begun to investigate the potential for using both multi-scale ‘omic approaches including genomics, proteomics and metabolomics and large scale exposure assessments using personal exposure monitors and other traditional exposure metrics to demonstrate the power of the exposome as a tool for hypothesis generation as a proof of principle. The resulting indicators of exposure and response are potentially powerful tools for understanding and preventing disease.


1.The different definitions of the exposome; a practical proposal (Paolo Vineis, Imperial College London, UK) [Talk will focus on different definitions including bottom-up and top-down interpretations]

2.Building the exposome by integrating multiple cohorts (Martine Vrijheid) [Talk will focus on efforts building exposome research using existing resources] 2

3.Building the exposome through new prospective studies (Shoji Nakayama) [Talk will focus on efforts building de-novo exposome research]


4.Epigenetics (Akram Ganthous, International Agency for Research on Cancer)

5.Early observations of Exposomics (Marc Chadeau)

6.Integrating biological response and mechanisms in the Exposome (Gary Miller) [Talk will focus on how to integrate biological information and mode-of-action in exposome research]

7.Establishing causality in an exposome context  (Roel Vermeulen) [Talk will focus on how to achieve statistical and causal inference in the Exposome context]

8.Policy / Science interface of the exposome? (Linda Birnbaum, Director NIEHS, US) [Talk will focus on the usefulness/need of Exposome research]

Round table discussion

  1. What are the largest challenges in implementing the Exposome and (how) can we overcome these?
  2. What are the most important practical lessons learned in implementing the exposome in current research?
  3. Do we see early indications of the added value of implementing the exposome in health research?

Inclusion of ethical dimension:  A number of ethical issues will be discussed including privacy, ownership, and accessibility of future exposure and health data.