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Your Life in Big Data: Drugs and the Environment

Our exposome, like our genome, plays an instrumental role in our livelihood. The exposome is defined as the collection of all environmental exposures humans encounter from birth to death, including dietary nutrients, drugs, pollutants, bacteria, and viruses. These factors can alter our genetic predisposition for disease. Unlike our genomes, however, our exposomes are not predetermined. Our disease risk can be changed by modifying our exposome. Additionally, the exposome itself is made up of interactions, such as the way drugs interact to produce unwanted side effects or additional benefits.

In this session, we begin to answer this question by introducing the concept of a “Personal Exposome Project”. We shall provide answers to what environmental exposures are and what the exposome concept is. We will show how how scientists -- and now individuals -- can search for exposures associated with disease. We will try to answer how the genome and exposome interact.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. What is the exposome? What is the genome?
  2. How does the genome set the stage for who we are?
  3. How can we, as individuals, actively utilize the exposome to inform a healthy life?
  4. How can we modify our exposomes given what our genes tell us about disease risk?
  5. How do the drugs we take alter our disease risks? How do drugs interact with the genome?



Nicholas Tatonetti, Assistant Professor, Columbia University

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