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Your Environment. Your Health.

Gene-Environment Interaction


Almost all diseases result from a complex interaction between an individual’s genetic make-up and environmental agents. Subtle differences in genetic factors cause people to respond differently to the same environmental exposure. This explains why some individuals have a fairly low risk of developing a disease as a result of an environmental insult, while others are much more vulnerable. As scientists learn more about how genetics and environmental factors work together to cause human diseases, they will be able to develop new strategies for the prevention and treatment of many illnesses. The Genes and Environment Initiative is a five-year, NIH-wide effort to identify the genetic and environmental basis of asthma, diabetes, cancer, and other common illnesses. This initiative will support the development of new procedures for analyzing genetic variation in groups of patients with specific illnesses, and new technologies for measuring exposures to chemical and biological agents, dietary intake, physical activity, psychosocial stress, and addictive substances.

Health Studies & Clinical Trials 

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What NIEHS is Doing on Gene-Environment Interaction 

General Information 

For Educators 

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