Environment and Health
The Department of Environment and Health aims to investigate and understand the whole process from environmental exposure to impact on human health (e.g. physical and neurological development, obesity and cancer ) and inform society about these outcomes. Research themes within the area of Health include Development Origins of Health and Disease (DOHAD) and sustainable health. The Department is involved in education of the BSc degree programme Health and Life.
DOHAD is based on the hypothesis that many chronic diseases originate from prenatal exposure. For this reason, the LINC study was set up within the Department. Our ambition is to expand our research on early life exposure into adulthood. We also investigate the impact of other exposures like the urban environment, nutrition, circadian rhythms and sleep, and health across the life course. Other intermediate determinants, including the gut microbiome and maternal/paternal health, are also considered. Our Department is unique as it can investigate this important research question from the molecular level to the population level.
Sustainable health focuses on the relationship between human habitat and health, as our everyday environment plays an important role in our health and that of our offspring. We aim to integrate short and long term consequences.
Epidemiological research is also an important element of the integrated approach. Some populations and communities, such as people living in the vicinity of chemical factories and babies, are, prenatal and postnatal, exposed to the toxic substances in question or are particularly sensitive to them. Determining this sensitivity requires research into the toxic effects on populations and communities.
Dr Marijke de Cock
The Department of Environment and Health is studying the relationship between exposure to hormone disrupting substances, such as certain pesticides and plasticizers, during the foetal period, on the one hand, and the growth and behaviour of children, on the other. For this purpose it uses the LInking EDCs in maternal Nutrition to Child health (LINC) mother-child cohort. This cohort comprises 330 mother-child pairs who have been monitored by the department's epidemiologists for five years now.