Using emerging technologies to understand the exposome
Despite the huge advances made by researchers in recent years in understanding environmental exposures and their biological effects, there are still many gaps in knowledge. For example, the incidence of diseases such as cancer is rising, and the exposome risk factors behind this increase are not fully understood.
HEAP will provide a research framework that exploits emerging technologies to expand the knowledge and understanding of the environmental factors that affect human health. It will include the following disciplines:
The epigenome acts as the interface between the genome and the environment, and can be thought of as a mechanism of cellular memory that records environmental exposures, and which can potentially explain predisposition to late-onset disease such as cancer.
Microbiomics uses next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies to examine the DNA present in clinical samples, without the need for a reference database about existing sequences.
Metabolomics is the quantitative analysis of small-molecule metabolites in biofluids and specimens. Metabolomic studies offer detailed and efficient characterization of human samples, with the aim of uncovering links between environmental factors and diseases. The human metabolome plays a key role in linking the individual genome with the environment through nutritional and exposure inputs.
Advanced statistical analysis
HEAP will focus on combining machine learning with computational statistics to develop powerful tools for statistical modelling.