The Institute for Exposomic Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai was established in 2017 under the leadership of Robert O. Wright, MD, MPH and Rosalind J. Wright, MD, MPH, international leaders in environmental health. It focuses unique resources, talented scientists and clinicians, and supports collaborations across departments and institutes at Mount Sinai, including: Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Genetics, Genomics, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Informatics.
Our mission is to understand how environmental exposures affect health, disease, and development later in life; and to translate our findings into new strategies for prevention and treatment. Our approach to exposomics is holistic, encompassing the chemical, nutritional, and social environments and the interrelationships among them.
Although an emerging consensus suggests that prevalent complex diseases in humans develop as a result of multiple biologically unique gene–gene, gene–environment and environment–environment interactions, this conceptual framework is still limited. In fact, the development of disease in humans is far more complex and is not even a three dimensional issue (i.e. involving interactions) but a four dimensional issue (i.e. changes in interaction-related risk over time).
Chronic illnesses—neurodevelopmental/degenerative disorders, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes—are the principal causes of disability and death in the US. The incidence and prevalence of these diseases is increasing and growing evidence indicates that environmental exposures in early life are important causes.
We work both on the external exposome and the internal exposome. We use traditional lab based methods as well as non-traditional methods that employ computer science, geospatial modeling, public data mining, and the use of smartphone-based apps. The growth of systems biology has illustrated the importance of considering multiple risk factors simultaneously and measuring the biological pathways they affect, as well as the limitations of solely taking reductionist approaches to science in a rapidly changing world.