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2016 Parallel Session Report: WOA pm Exposomics: Targeted, Untargeted and Bioinformatics Technologies

2016 Conference Workshop Report: MS-based Metabolomic Workflows to Characterize the Exposome

2015 Conference Workshop Report

About the Exposome:
It may be surprising to learn that the genetic heritability of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and many cancers is very low: estimated to be 10% - 20%. This suggests that a person’s risk of succumbing to chronic disease is linked to more than just his or her genome (G). The exposome (E), is defined as the lifetime sum of both external and internal exposures [1, 2]. It includes but is not limited to, the food we eat, the drugs and dietary supplements we take, the chemical pollutants we are exposed to and our internal chemistry, such as the activity of our gut microflora, lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress. In the exposome paradigm, 80% - 90% of chronic human diseases are determined by E and GxE (including epigenetics).

What differentiates the exposome?
The exposome encompasses the other “omes” and represents all non-genetic factors in disease causation [3]. For example, when one measures the metabolome or lipidome, they are measuring a slice of the exposome. The exposome is therefore a quantity of critical interest if we are to fully define the causative factors in chronic human disease [4]. The application of mass spectrometric technologies to measure the exposome will provide reliable information on the relationship between exposure and risk. The use of exposome paradigm will facilitate the translation of research into educational, behavioral and policy-based risk mitigating interventions.

Importance of the exposome:
Global interest in the exposome is growing and this expansion can be seen in the increased number of exposome publications in peer reviewed journals since 2010. There are many funded research endeavors designed to ‘explore the exposome.’ In the EU, HEALS, HELIX and EXPoSOMICS are all underway. PI’s represent Imperial College, London, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and CREAL in Barcelona. The Phenome Center has been established at Imperial College, London. In the US, NIEHS has funded HERCULES at Emory University and US EPA and CDC both define the exposome as a critical entity required to better understand the non-genetic contribution to chronic disease. Moreover, major US and Canadian Universities including Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, University of Alberta and those mentioned above are engaged in exposome research. In Japan, NIES is conducting a prospective mother / child cohort, with more than 300,000 participants, to measure the exposome and in China, several University’s are moving away from measuring pollutants in air and water, and into the exposome paradigm.

  1. Wild, C.P. Complementing the Genome with an ‘‘Exposome’’: The Outstanding Challenge of Environmental Exposure Measurement in Molecular Epidemiology. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. (2005) 14, 1847-1850.
  2. Rappaport, S.M., Smith, M.T. Environment and Disease Risks. Science. (2010) 330, 460-461.
  3. Pleil, J.D., Stiegel, M.A. Evolution of Environmental Exposure Science: Using Breath-Borne Biomarkers for “Discovery” of the Human Exposome. Anal. Chem. (2013) 85, 9984−9990.
  4. Rappaport, S.M. Implications of the exposome for exposure science. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. (2011) 21, 5-9.
The Exposome in the news:

Links to exposome webinars sponsored by NIEHS: