Use of Metabolomics to Advance Research on Environmental Exposures and the Human Exposome: Workshop in Brief (2016)Board on Life Sciences
Metabolomics, the scientific study of small molecules produced from metabolism, is a rapidly expanding area of research that enables scientists to better understand the physiological state of an organism and its response to different types of stimuli such as nutrients and pollutants. Preliminary research suggests that metabolomics holds promise to advance understanding of the exposome--all of the environmental compounds an individual is exposed to from conception to death. For this reason, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a workshop to examine the potential for using metabolomics to characterize human environmental exposures and the exposome. Proofs-of-concept were discussed in two case studies on the cause of human Eosinophilic esophagitis (a chronic immune disease) and the effect of toxic pollutants on pregnancy in rats. Key workshop themes included technical capabilities and limitations to collect metabolomics data and the implications of this new source of data for future environmental and public health research and public health policies.