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Background information

The EUPHA section on public health genomics (PHG) was formally established at the 13th EUPHA annual conference in Graz, Austria, in 2005.

Steering Committee:    

  • Murielle Brochud, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Peter Schröder-Bäck, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
  • Nicole Probst-Hensch, University of Basel, Switzerland
  • Kirsten Steinhausen, European Science Foundation (ESF), France
  • Nuria Malats, National Research Cancer Institute (CNIO), Spain              

Rapid scientific advances in genomics such as in the light of epigenomics, microbiomics and systems biology supported by new ICT solutions and "Big Data" not only contribute to the understanding of disease mechanisms, but also provide the option of new promising applications in human health management during the whole life-course of a person. What was little time ago a vision for a new era of public health, in which advances from the -omic sciences would be integrated into strategies aiming at benefiting population health, is now responding to the very pressing need for the development of effective personalised healthcare going even beyond personalised medicine. For example, nutrigenomics is the field showing not only that nutrients play a central role in the stabilisation of the DNA but also that there is a need to understand the complexity of the interaction between nutrition, genomics and other environmental factors as well as their role in the development of diseases.

So far, all stakeholders including policy-makers and the private sector are struggling to translate the emerging knowledge into public health. Public Health Genomics (PHG) is the area of public health ensuring that scientific advances in genomics (“from cell...”) triggered by innovative technologies are timely, effectively and responsibly translated into health policies and practice for the benefit of population health (“...to society”). The implementation of PHG requires increased concerted activities such as the one of the Public Health Genomics European Network (PHGEN), the FP7 CSA on Personalised Medicine (PerMed) involving funding bodies or the European Flagship Pilot ITFoM on the future of medicine that aims to achieve the visionary goal of the “virtual human”.

 

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