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Total Exposure Health Conference 2018: Protecting military, first-responders, and the public from environmental, occupational and lifestyle exposures

  • Published
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Military personnel and first responders commonly operate in adverse environments. Dust storms, extreme heat or cold, fallen or burning buildings, and high-G cockpits are all environments that come with the job—as well as unique exposures to chemicals, dust and particles, noise, and other “stressors” that could impact human health.

But there are other stressors—in all of our lives—that shouldn’t be discounted. Noise and chemicals from hobbies or second jobs, even food and sunlight—things we intentionally or unintentionally are exposed to, ingest or even seek—also impact our health and certainly aren’t limited to armed forces and first responders. Predicting exactly how each person is affected, however, isn’t readily known because lots of factors -genetic makeup, culture, social stressors-play a role in how our bodies respond to exposures.

So where do we start? How do we account for human variability and how various exposures influence human disease?

To help answer these questions, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in partnership with the Air Force Medical Service, is collaborating with industry and academic leaders at the first ever Total Health Exposure Conference, which will be held September 6th and 7th in Washington, DC.

Created in 2015, Total Exposure Health, or TEH, stands at the intersection of healthcare and technology, using advances in science, medicine, technology, and information technology to better collect, analyze, and understand various exposures individuals face at not only the organ level, but also the cellular level, thereby creating better clinical interventions.

Moving this concept into reality, the TEH conference will highlight work already being done in coupling exposure sciences with precision medicine, which is what Justin Teeguarden, Ph.D. and chief scientist for exposure science at PNNL believes is key to understanding the impact various “stressors” have on human health.

“One of the things research has shown is that one size does not fit all when it comes to human health,” said Teeguarden. “Individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle are factors that play a significant role in how each person’s body reacts to exposures. Given that we’re looking at so many variables, I think precision medicine is a smart and natural fit with exposure science to really help us hone in on how to help people as individuals rather than en masse.”

Col. Philip Goff, Chief of the Air Force Medical Service TEH program, believes Total Exposure Health is the way to capture exposures and make science-based risk assessments to provide tailored actions at the individual level to reduce risks, thereby preventing disease and reducing healthcare costs.

The PNNL-hosted conference will feature prominent speakers from the Air Force, major health care organizations, industry leaders, and academic institutions such as Oregon State University, Harvard, and Stanford.

“It’s a really exciting time in our history, with the advances in the science, technology and information space and especially in medicine. Total Exposure Health bridges all those innovations into one common solution,” stated Dr. Richard Hartman of the Air Force TEH office. Goff added, “TEH is true primary prevention, and we are very excited about it and our collaboration with PNNL!”

Interested in attending? Please visit the conference website for more details.