Investigators at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, along with partners at the Georgia Institute of Technology, have received a $4 million grant over four years to establish the HERCULES Center at Emory University (Health and Exposome Research Center: Understanding Lifetime Exposures). The grant is the first exposome-based center grant awarded in the United States.
The HERCULES Center is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) of the National Institutes of Health as an Environmental Health Sciences Core Center. This NIEHS initiative is designed to establish leadership and support for programs of excellence in environmental health sciences by providing scientific guidance, technology and career development opportunities for promising investigators.
The exposome is a relatively new concept that incorporates all of the exposures encountered by humans. It is proposed to be the environmental equivalent of 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.
"HERCULES is more than an acronym," explains Gary W. Miller, PhD, professor and associate dean for research at the Rollins School of Public Health, and director of the HERCULES Center. "Sequencing of the human genome project was a Herculean task, and determining the impact of the complex exposures we face throughout our lives represents a similarly difficult challenge. The exposome itself represents all of the external forces that act upon us. We know that measuring the exposome will be extremely difficult, but very worthwhile."
Scientists believe that when coupled with a growing understanding of genetics, the exposome will help uncover the causes of many complex disorders, such as aut
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Emory Health Sciences