HEALS - Health and Environment-wide Associations based on Large population Surveys
European Commission - 7th Framework Programme (2007-2013)
Universite Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 6, France • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece • Institute of Occupational Medicine, United Kingdom • Universitaet Stuttgart, Germany • Institut Jozef Stefan, Slovenia • Universite Paris Descartes, France • University Of Bristol, United Kingdom • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, Germany • Instytut Medycyny Pracy Nofera, Poland • Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus, Finland • The University of Manchester, United Kingdom • Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek, Netherlands • The Secretary of State For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs, United Kingdom • Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Spain • University of Western Macedonia, Greece • Fundacio Privada Parc Cientific De Barcelona, Spain • Instituto de Engenharia Mecânica, Portugal • Oikon Doo Institut Za Primijenjenu Ekologiju, Croatia • Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche, Italy • Universidade do Porto/ Instituto de Sáude Pública da Universidade do Porto, Portugal • National Center For Scientific Research “Demokritos”, Greece • Universitat Rovira I Virgili, Spain • Klinikum Der Universitaet Regensburg, Germany • Servicexs Bv, Netherlands • King’s College London, United Kingdom • Nasjonalt Folkehelseinstitutt, Norway • Syddansk Universitet, Denmark • The Regents of the University of California, USA
HEALS represents a comprehensive applied methodology focusing on the different aspects of individual assessment of exposure to conventional and emerging environmental stressors and on the prediction of the associated health outcomes. For the first time, HEALS will try to reverse the paradigm of “nature versus nurture” and adopt one defined by complex and dynamic interactions between DNA sequence, epigenetic DNA modifications, gene expression and environmental factors that all combine to influence disease phenotypes. HEALS will start from analysis of data collected in on-going epidemiological EU studies involving mother/infant pairs, children, or adults including the elderly to evidence relevant environmental exposure/health outcome associations. These associations will aid in designing pilot surveys using an integrated approach, where the selection of biomarkers of exposure, effects and individual susceptibility results in integrated risk assessment. In the context of this new paradigm, a relevant contribution for a better understanding of the diseases comes also from twin studies.
In fact, HEALS proposes the functional integration of -omics derived data and biochemical biomonitoring to create the internal exposome at the individual level. These data will be exploited using advanced bioinformatics tools for both descriptive and predictive data mining. HEALS will propose a novel bioinformatics strategy focusing on biomarker fusion, and direct coupling of physiology-based biokinetic models to metabolic regulatory networks derived from -omics analyses. In this way, the internal dose of environmental stressors will be coupled to the alterations they bring about to gene expression, protein-protein interactions and metabolic regulation and plausible hypotheses on the respective pathways of toxicity can be established.