Defined as the measure of all of an individual’s exposures in a lifetime and how these affect their health, the exposome can help discover the key exposures responsible for chronic diseases. To aid this discovery, the EU-funded ATHLETE project aims to develop a toolbox of advanced, next-generation exposome tools and a prospective exposome cohort. This will be used to systematically quantify the effects of a wide range of environmental risk factors on mental, cardiometabolic and respiratory health outcomes and associated biological pathways during the first 20 years of life. The project’s achievements will aid in the implementation of acceptable and feasible exposome interventions; moreover, they could inform policy recommendations and prevention strategies.
ATHLETE aims to develop a toolbox of advanced, next-generation, exposome tools and a prospective exposome cohort, which will be used to systematically quantify the effects of a wide range of community-level and individual-level environmental risk factors on mental, cardiometabolic, and respiratory health outcomes and associated biological pathways during the first 2 decades of life, to implement acceptable and feasible exposome interventions, and to translate the resulting evidence to policy recommendations and prevention strategies. ATHLETE will establish a prospective exposome cohort, including FAIR data infrastructure, building on Europe’s most comprehensive already existing exposome data (15 cohorts in 10 European countries). ATHLETE will systematically characterise the effects of the exposome on early organ development, health trajectories, and biological pathways (metagenomic, metabolomic, epigenetic, ageing, and stress pathways), longitudinally from early pregnancy through adolescence. Innovative tool development will focus on: 1) complete and accurate measurement of multiple environmental risk factors (external/urban, chemical, physical, behavioural, social) through new targeted and untargeted exposure science approaches, 2) development of advanced statistical and toxicological strategies to analyse complex multi-dimensional exposome data, 3) development of interventions to reduce personal exposures, co-produced with the community, and 4) estimation of the societal impact of the exposome by calculating costs and child health impacts. ATHLETE’s strong focus on the vulnerable early stages of the life course, widespread general population exposures and common non-communicable diseases, its use of a large body of existing exposome data and expertise, its strong emphasis on knowledge translation, its development of an open online toolbox and its close collaboration in the European Human Exposome Network ensure that the objectives are achievable and highly relevant for future research and policy. ATHLETE is part of the European Human Exposome Network comprised of 9 projects selected from this same call.