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$4M Grant Awarded to Emory University, Georgia Tech to Create Exposome Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Scientists at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have received a four-year, $4 million grant to establish a center for research into the effects of environmental exposure on humans.

The Rollins School of Public Health at Emory along with partners at Georgia Tech will establish the Health and Exposome Research Center: Understanding Lifetime Exposure, or HERCULES Center, at Emory. The grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is the first exposome-based center grant awarded in the US, according to the two universities.

The exposome is a new concept that "incorporates all of the exposures encountered by humans," they said adding that it is equivalent to the human genome and "includes lifetime exposures to environmental pollutants in food, water, physical activity, medications, homes, and daily stressors. Exposome research looks at the holistic view of the human body's exposures, how the body responds to those exposures, and their combined effects."

Combined with the growing understanding of genetics, the exposome could shed light on the underpinnings of complex disorders such as autism, asthma, and Alzheimer's disease, they added.

Included in the HERCULES Center is the systems biology core, which will provide expertise in computational methods for the analysis and integration of large datasets. Gary Miller, a professor and associate dean for research at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory, is the director of the HERCULES Center. The systems biology core is headed by Eberhard Voit from Georgia Tech's biomedical engineering department.