I3CARE, an International Tripartite Collaboration to Advance Exposome Research, is a global collaboration between University of Utrecht, the University of Toronto, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The long-term goal of I3CARE is the development of new collaborative research projects and to leverage institutional strengths addressing emerging global public health challenges arising from how we live, work and interact with our physical and social environment. We are addressing this goal by applying and expanding the Exposome concept through the development of new investigative tools to discover and quantify modifiable risk factors.

Goals of the I3CARE collaboration and resources provided by its partners
Goals of the I3CARE collaboration and resources provided by its partners

Utrecht University

Utrecht University is actively involved in Exposome research. Researchers at Utrecht University have recently been implementing both sensor and systems biology techniques in population based studies to identify novel environmental stressors as part of a the EU FP-7 project “ExposOmics” . The Utrecht Bioinformatics Center (UBC) is a center that brings together a large number of research groups of the Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht and Hubrecht Institute that conduct research containing a strong bioinformatics component. The central environmental lab of Utrecht University (CASTEL) provides analytical support for exploration of a wide range of environmental contaminants and the development and testing of sensors. The Utrecht High Performance Computing center for geospatial data has been established to handle large volumes of spatial data can contribute importantly to measurements of the external Exposome.

University of Toronto

Researchers at University of Toronto have established, in collaboration with several other universities, a large population based prospective birth cohort study in which such techniques could be employed. University of Toronto also has access to several other prospective cohort platforms, provincially and nationally, that are following the health records of many individuals at different points in the life course, from birth to old age. These cohorts have accumulated some data on exposure and have biobanked samples. Through the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR), University of Toronto has extensive infrastructure and ongoing research on the measurement of air pollution and exposure assessment; this includes a program on sensor development for environmental pollutants in particulate air pollution. They have created a new initiative to promote exposomics research through the Institute for Research on Exposomics Based Assessment (IREBA). Finally, province and nationwide data on health outcomes is available through the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Researchers at Chinese University of Hong Kong have been investigating metabolic syndrome and associated biological markers in a large prospective occupational cohort of night shift workers in China and air pollutant studies in Hong Kong as well as several cancer studies. In addition, researchers at Chinese University of Hong Kong have access to big cohort data of multi-cities in the general population of China and would like to adopt these novel technologies in their research work. Implementation of novel investigative tools to discover modifiable environmental stressors related to disease and health in population based research is critical to prevention of disease and an improvement in global public health. Chinese University of Hong Kong is also actively involved in the development and deployment of real-time air pollution sensors.