How can better data help prevent disease?

Senior Female Epidemiologist Works with Samples in Isolation Glove Box. She's in a Modern, Busy Laboratory Equipped with State of the Art Technology

What if you could predict how many and which diseases a person could be exposed to in their lifetime?

By merging what we know and what we still need to discover about our genetics, the environments in which we live, the molecular biology of our cells and the probabilities that we will contract certain infections, Life-course Epidemiology aims to crack this major global challenge.

Discover more about Life-course Epidemiology

Led by Dr Hilde Langseth, Section Leader of Janus Serum Bank at the Cancer Registry of Norway, the new specialty Life-course Epidemiology in Frontiers in Public Health will examine biological, behavioral and social pathways that link exposures to disease outcome. This includes exposures during gestation, childhood, adolescence and adult life as well as across generations to influence health and health inequalities in later life.

Repositories for early detection and prevention

“Research in life-course epidemiology is what we need to increase the knowledge about the impact of different lifetime exposures on infections and disease risk later in life,” says Dr Langseth.

The greatest challenge in this area is the access to large data sets. “Progress in this research field will require access to large harmonized datasets from prospective cohorts and biobanks. Today we have huge challenges in data sharing that should be solved. A harmonized framework for legal, regulatory, social and ethical guidelines is an urgent need,” says Dr Langseth.

Further research in epidemiology needs help from other disciplines

A cross-disciplinary approach to life-course epidemiology is important for further research: “It is commonly understood that both genetics and environmental exposures impact on disease development. To better understand complex disease development, it’s important to use multidisciplinary approaches to cover epidemiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, basic science and statistical methods among others.”

The most important contribution life-course epidemiology can make is to identify new risk factors and understand how they interact with established modifiable risk factors. This will help identify high risk groups to improve disease prevention efforts.

Frontiers journals also consistently rank among the world’s most-cited in their fields and in the top Impact Factor and CiteScore percentiles. Discover more

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