March 12 | 2018

Gene-by-environment interactions in urban populations modulate risk phenotypes

Marie-Julie Favé, Fabien C. Lamaze, David Soave, Alan Hodgkinson, Héloïse Gauvin, Vanessa Bruat, Jean-Christophe Grenier, Elias Gbeha, Kimberly Skead, Audrey Smargiassi, Markey Johnson, Youssef Idaghdour & Philip Awadalla

Nature Communications volume 9, Article number: 827 (2018)



Uncovering the interaction between genomes and the environment is a principal challenge of modern genomics and preventive medicine. While theoretical models are well defined, little is known of the G × E interactions in humans. We used an integrative approach to comprehensively assess the interactions between 1.6 million data points, encompassing a range of environmental exposures, health, and gene expression levels, coupled with whole-genome genetic variation. From ∼1000 individuals of a founder population in Quebec, we reveal a substantial impact of the environment on the transcriptome and clinical endophenotypes, overpowering that of genetic ancestry. Air pollution impacts gene expression and pathways affecting cardio-metabolic and respiratory traits, when controlling for genetic ancestry. Finally, we capture four expression quantitative trait loci that interact with the environment (air pollution). Our findings demonstrate how the local environment directly affects disease risk phenotypes and that genetic variation, including less common variants, can modulate individual’s response to environmental challenges.

Urban Green and Built Infrastructure as a Tool to Mitigate Local Air Pollution | April 10 | 2018 | Register Now

April 10 | 2018

 9am-10am pacific | 12 noon – 1pm eastern


For his presentation, Dr. Baldauf will summarize the U.S. EPA’s research program on the use of built and green infrastructure to mitigate local air pollution impacts from transportation facilities.  His presentation will describe the current scientific understanding of how urban infrastructure affects local air quality, including a review of projects conducted in the US and other parts of the world investigating solid noise barrier and roadside vegetation impacts in particular.  He will also summarize existing resources developed by the U.S. EPA to assist environmental and health professionals, urban planners, and developers to identify best practices to mitigate local air pollution impacts and avoid unintended consequences where urban infrastructure may exacerbate local air quality concerns.


Dr. Baldauf has over 20 years of experience conducting research on emissions, air quality impacts, and adverse health effects from exposures to air pollution emitted by transportation and industrial sources.  His research focuses on the development of policies and practices to mitigate air pollution emissions and impacts at local, urban, and global scales.  His research has led to national emissions standards and best practices to mitigate air pollution impacts using urban development including built and green infrastructure.  He has a joint affiliation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research & Development and the Office of Transportation & Air Quality where he has led cross-disciplinary research teams focusing on air quality measurements, air dispersion modeling, and sustainable transportation and urban development issues.  He also maintains Adjunct Professor appointments in the School of Engineering at North Carolina State University and Texas A&M University.  Dr. Baldauf co-manages the U.S. EPA’s Mobile Source Emissions Research Laboratory and led the cross-agency Sustainable Transportation Initiative.  He has published over 100 peer-review journal articles and several book chapters on these topics during his career at the U.S. EPA.

March 5 | 2018

Assessing the Exposome with External Measures: Commentary on the State of the Science and Research Recommendations

Michelle C. Turner, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Kim Anderson, David Balshaw, Yuxia Cui, Genevieve Dunton, Jane A. Hoppin, Petros Koutrakis, and Michael Jerrett

Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 38:215-239 (Volume publication date March 2017)


The exposome comprises all environmental exposures that a person experiences from conception throughout the life course. Here we review the state of the science for assessing external exposures within the exposome. This article reviews (a) categories of exposures that can be assessed externally, (b) the current state of the science in external exposure assessment, (c) current tools available for external exposure assessment, and (d) priority research needs. We describe major scientific and technological advances that inform external assessment of the exposome, including geographic information systems; remote sensing; global positioning system and geolocation technologies; portable and personal sensing, including smartphone-based sensors and assessments; and self-reported questionnaire assessments, which increasingly rely on Internet-based platforms. We also discuss priority research needs related to methodological and technological improvement, data analysis and interpretation, data sharing, and other practical considerations, including improved assessment of exposure variability as well as exposure in multiple, critical life stages.

CANUE – OEH Seminar | Mar. 9th 2018 |12:30 pm – 1:30 pm | Toronto

The Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium: A protocol for building a national environmental exposure data platform for integrated analyses of urban form and health
(Click here to register)

Occupational and Environmental Health Seminar

Title: The Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium: A protocol for building a national environmental exposure data platform for integrated analyses of urban form and health

Multiple external environmental exposures related to residential location and urban form have been linked to both positive and negative health impacts.  The Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium (CANUE) is facilitating the linkage of geospatial exposure data to existing Canadian cohorts and administrative health data holdings ultimately to spark investigations into the interdependent associations of built environment features and health.  CANUE’s focus is on quantifiable exposures that vary spatially on the urban and suburban scale and can be modified through changes in policy or individual behaviour to benefit health.  This includes six areas: air quality, noise, greenness, weather/climate, and transportation and neighbourhood factors. Neighbourhood factors would include: walkability, food environment and socioeconomic characteristics.

Presenter: Dr. Jeff Brook

Dr. Jeff Brook is a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto.  He is also a senior research scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada where he has been studying air pollution exposure and health issues for over 25 years.  Dr. Brook is the scientific director of the recently established Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium, focusing on urban form and health.  He also co-leads a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence (AllerGen) program on Genes and Environment and leads the environmental exposure component of a national birth cohort, the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study, examining the influences of environmental factors on children’s health.

The Occupational and Environmental Health Seminar Series is a self-approved group learning activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification program of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The series is also approved by Council of Professional Experience for professional development hours (PDHs) for members of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI), and by the Canadian Registration Board of Occupational Hygienists (CRBOH) for Registration Maintenance (RM) points. For more information, please contact Elaina MacIntyre (

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.

February 27 | 2018

Six research priorities for cities and climate change

Xuemei Bai, Richard J. Dawson, Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, Gian C. Delgado, Aliyu Salisu Barau, Shobhakar Dhakal, David Dodman, Lykke Leonardsen, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Debra Roberts, Seth Schultz.

Nature 555, 23-25 (2018) doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-02409-z

Xuemei Bai and colleagues call for long-term, cross-disciplinary studies to reduce carbon emissions and urban risks from global warming.