Public Health Genomics: Genetic and Environmental Determinants of Health
In the past 20 years there has been an explosion in knowledge about the genetics of health and disease. Molecular approaches have yielded exciting discoveries and population level studies have uncovered associations with particular genetic variants. The melding of these two approaches has the potential to accelerate the incorporation of molecular genetic knowledge into clinical practice.
In order to take advantage of the large cohorts, genomic resources and new molecular technologies we must train a new type of scientist, equally at home with molecular genetic approaches and epidemiology. This is a critical juncture where training in population methods can enable genetic researchers to take advantage of the vast amount of genetic data being generated. At the same time, traditional risk factor epidemiology cannot advance without understanding and incorporating new genetic information. Although genetic epidemiology as a subfield has existed for some time, the traditional methods and approaches are not adequate to take advantage of the explosion of new data. We need special cross training to take advantage of the "omics" (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, toxicogenomics) and to explore the joint contributions of genetics and the environment to the etiology of disease.
PhD programs in epidemiology and genetics would form the backbone, and the new M2M pathway would build on extensive collaborative research underway among researchers in different departments.