Paradigm shift needed in environmental health sciences

Read the full story in Environmental Factor.

The Human Genome Project sparked a paradigm shift in genetics that I believe holds important insights for environmental health scientists. February marked the 20th anniversary of the first draft sequence and analysis of our genetic blueprint, and much has changed in the intervening years.

Instead of analyzing just one gene at a time, many scientists now study an individual’s complete set of DNA. Their work helps to show how we respond to environmental exposures, promising to reveal the molecular changes involved in toxicity. Meanwhile, knowledge has expanded in complementary fields such as metabolomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics. Those fields involve large-scale analyses of metabolites, proteins, and RNA, respectively.

Similarly, many environmental health scientists now realize the benefits of moving beyond studying only one agent in isolation. These researchers embrace an approach for analyzing the multitude of exposures people experience during their lives, which is called the exposome.

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