Systems biology: New approaches to old environmental health problems

William A. Toscano, Kristen P. Oehlke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The environment plays a pivotal role as a human health determinant and presence of hazardous pollutants in the environment is often implicated in human disease. That pollutants cause human diseases however is often controversial because data connecting exposure to environmental hazards and human diseases are not well defined, except for some cancers and syndromes such as asthma. Understanding the complex nature of human-environment interactions and the role they play in determining the state of human health is one of the more compelling problems in public health. We are becoming more aware that the reductionist approach promulgated by current methods has not, and will not yield answers to the broad questions of population health risk analysis. If substantive applications of environment-gene interactions are to be made, it is important to move to a systems level approach, to take advantage of epidemiology and molecular genomic advances. Systems biology is the integration of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics together with computer technology approaches to elucidate environmentally caused disease in humans. We discuss the applications of environmental systems biology as a route to solution of environmental health problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-9
Number of pages6
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Envirome
  • Environmental health
  • Exposure
  • Genomics
  • Systems analysis
  • Toxicology


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