Systems Epidemiology

Epidemiology is changing

Applications of comprehensive metabolic profiling, broadly termed “metabolomics”, are increasingly common in epidemiology and genetics. This is due to recent developments in quantitative methodologies and various appealing results from their applications on understanding life-course health and disease etiologies. Most epidemiological studies routinely analyse blood biomarkers, for example total cholesterol and glucose. Our team has developed a high-throughput serum NMR metabolomics platform that measures the concentrations of multiple standard biomarkers but in the same time also provides quantitative molecular data on over 200 metabolic measures not commonly studied in epidemiology. So far we have used the platform to analyze close to 200,000 samples and the molecular data have been used in various epidemiological and genetics studies. Some of the research areas are briefly described here. Evidently, the increasing amounts of quantitative data on systemic metabolism are revealing a plethora of novel molecular biomarkers suggesting that quantitative metabolomics will eventually reshape the way in which epidemiology and genetics are practiced in the near future.