The Dutch Research Council (NWO) announced today that it is investing € 20 million in seven projects for innovative scientific infrastructure. One of these NWO Investment Grant Large awards is a contribution of €3.2 million for a laboratory for measuring toxic substances, awarded to Medical Delta professor Prof. Thomas Hankemeier (Leiden University). Hankemeier is Scientific Leader of the scientific program METABODELTA: Metabolomics for clinical advances in the Medical Delta, to which this grant also contributes.
How do environmental factors such as lifestyle, nutrition and exposure to harmful substances influence our health? Scientists mainly know a lot about the influence of our genetic factors, but environmental factors are just as important because they are responsible for seven in ten chronic conditions.
With the NWO Large, researchers from various institutes and medical centers will build a large-scale open facility for research into the so-called exposome. The project Exposome-Scan will build further upon the research programmes Exposome-NL and X-omics and will provide researchers from throughout the Netherlands access to a unique facility to investigate the exposome. For example, in the lab, researchers will be able to measure thousands of chemical substances in blood and urine on a large scale and search for chemical substances that could later lead to dementia. The ultimate aim is to use this knowledge to help people to live more healthily.
"Each of the projects is unique in its kind and makes new research possible that will generate knowledge with a considerable added value for society.” says Marcel Levi, chairman of the board of NWO. allocated investments. “Take, for example, the laboratory to measure toxic substances that Leiden University can now continue developing. There are many substances whose precise effects on humans and the amounts that can lead to diseases developing are unknown. This lab will facilitate a faster study and more detailed definition of the effects of these substances.”
Hankemeier envisions a future in which everyone can have his or her personal health profile made. “This way you can offer the best care per person. An overactive immune system is sometimes not good, but neither is an inactive immune system. The balance is crucial, and that is why we want to better understand which circumstances unbalance the biological system and how to restore that balance. It would be fantastic if we could offer every person such a personal approach.”