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Your Environment. Your Health.

Exposure Analysis using Global Metabolomics and Cognitive Computing

The NIEHS Exposure Science and the Exposome Webinar Series
October 11, 2017

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Literature on Exposome

View a list of publications related to the exposome in PubMed.


The NIEHS Strategic Plan places a significant emphasis on transforming exposure science through the development of new approaches to exposure assessment, the definition and dissemination of the exposome concept, and the development and demonstration of the exposome as a tool for both epidemiological and mechanistic research. In order to achieve this goal, NIEHS launched the Exposure Science and the Exposome Webinar Series on April 4, 2014 to foster discussions on international efforts in advancing exposure science and the exposome concept as well as challenges and opportunities in incorporating this concept in environmental health research.


Concurrent exposure to a wide variety of xenobiotics and their combined toxic effects can play a pivotal role in health and disease, yet are largely unexplored. Investigating the totality of these exposures, i.e. the exposome, and their specific biological effects constitutes a new paradigm for environmental health but still lacks high-throughput, user-friendly technology. We demonstrate the utility of mass spectrometry-based global exposure metabolomics combined with tailored database queries and cognitive computing for comprehensive exposure assessment and the straightforward elucidation of biological effects. The METLIN Exposome database has been redesigned to help identify environmental toxicants, food contaminants and supplements, drugs, and antibiotics as well as their biotransformation products, through its expansion with over 700,000 chemical structures to now include more than 950,000 unique small molecules. More importantly, we demonstrate how the XCMS/METLIN platform now allows for the readout of the biological effect of a toxicant through metabolomic-derived pathway analysis and further, cognitive computing provides a means of assessing the role of a potential toxicant. The presented workflow addresses many of the methodological challenges current exposome research is facing and will serve to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of environmental exposures and combinatory toxic effects on human health.


Gary Siuzdak is Professor and Director of the Scripps Center for Metabolomics at The Scripps Research Institute. He is an affiliate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and has served as Vice President of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. His research includes developing novel technologies for metabolomics, imaging and system biology. He has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and two books including the "The Expanding Role of Mass Spectrometry in Biotechnology".

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