ROCHESTER, Minn. – The next frontier in individualized medicine is here. Mayo Clinic's 11th annual Individualizing Medicine Conference on Nov. 2–3 will focus on "Exploring the Exposome" — the cumulative measure of environmental influences and associated biological responses throughout the life span of a person, and how those exposures relate to health and disease.
"We've made significant progress in mapping the human genome and understanding the role of genes in diseases, but genetics only accounts for approximately 10% to 15% of diseases. Now, the key to accelerating further discoveries in individualized medicine lies in putting the exposome under the microscope," says Konstantinos Lazaridis, M.D., the Carlson and Nelson Endowed Executive Director for Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine.
One of the ways environmental exposures affect a person’s genome is via the epigenome. This includes chemical compounds and proteins that attach to DNA structure and activate or deactivate genes, ultimately controlling the production of proteins in cells.
"These changes are potentially reversible, which can serve as a therapeutic target and importantly can be passed down from one generation to the next," Dr. Lazaridis says.
During the conference, world-leading scientists will present recent advances in this field and share future directions of such efforts to improve understanding and therapy of disease.
National experts also will share their latest discoveries in precision nutrition and the potential benefits of tailoring nutrients and dietary guidance to a person's genes, metabolism, microbiome and other distinguishing characteristics. The ultimate goal of the holistic approach is to promote health and help prevent diet-related diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Additional topics to be highlighted at the conference include precision oncology, metabolomics and bioinformatics.
The conference will be held in person at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota, and virtually for global participants. Conference attendees will discover ways to innovate and advance care through genomics, and emerging exposome and precision nutrition science. Expert speakers from around the world and Mayo Clinic will inspire attendees to transform future health care.
Rick Woychik, Ph.D., is the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and director of the National Toxicology Program — both part of the National Institutes of Health. In these roles, he oversees federal funding for biomedical research to discover how the environment influences human health and disease.
Sharon Donovan, Ph.D., professor and Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair and Director for the Personalized Nutrition Initiative at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, teaches both basic and advanced nutrition classes, and has been included on the "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students" more than 25 times for nine different courses.
Moderating the conference will be Cathy Wurzer, host of "Morning Edition" for Minnesota Public Radio.
Pieter Dorrestein, Ph.D., professor at the University of California – San Diego has been pioneering the development of mass spectrometry methods to study the chemical ecological crosswalk between populations of microorganisms, including host interactions for agricultural, diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
Martine Vrijheid, Ph.D, is a professor of Environmental Epidemiology and head of the Childhood and Environment Programme at the Institute for Global Health in Barcelona. Her research focuses on improving the understanding of environmental risk factors for child health and development and the origins of disease, to underpin preventive action.
Cheryl Willman, M.D., executive director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Programs and director of Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, acknowledges the importance of leveraging comprehensive data to advance care. From clinical trials to individualized care, big data guides the innovation made every day in treating cancer patients.
David Wishart, Ph.D, is a distinguished university professor in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Computing Science at the University of Alberta. Dr. Wishart has been studying protein folding and misfolding for more than 30 years using a combination of computational and experimental approaches. These experimental approaches include NMR spectroscopy, circular dichroism, fluorescence spectroscopy, electron microscopy, protein engineering and molecular biology.
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