Genetic and Environmental Influences on Common Diseases

The major common diseases – diabetes, pulmonary illnesses, disorders of the nervous system, cardiovascular diseases and cancer – have complex causes and result from the complex interplay between genetics, environmental factors and personal lifestyles. Due to changing living conditions and longer life expectancies, these diseases are becoming increasingly common.

This research programme focuses on the influence of both genes and environmental factors on human health. It is crucial to clarify the interactions between the organism and environmental factors in order to understand the importance of this interplay for human health and the development of diseases. The programme aims to develop strategies and procedures for the personalized prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of complex chronic diseases. The focus is on diabetes and chronic pulmonary illness, but the research is also making important contributions to understanding other common diseases such as neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

The scientific focus of the programme is the systematic analysis of the interactions between the genome, environmental factors and ageing. Scientists are carrying out genetic, epigenetic, proteomic, metabolic and microbial studies to understand the causes of disease at a molecular level. As part of the programme’s translational approach, their findings are contributing to the development of personalised drugs for the prevention and treatment of common diseases.

Participating Helmholtz Centres:

Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ

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