In most complex traits, susceptibility to certain risk exposures and response to clinical interventions in is under genetic control, a concept broadly termed gene-environment interaction. Although in animals and in plants there is evidence supporting this notion, in humans most evidence is confined to rare monogenic disorders. In complex diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity, interactions between genetic and environmental risk factors are likely to begin very early in life, perhaps even pre-conception. Of the hundreds of published studies, several stand out as having been replicated across diverse settings, although most have not, and even those that are replicated often lack robust evidence of mechanisms or causality. My lecture will begin by overviewing the rationale and the approaches used to studies gene-lifestyle interactions. I will begin by focusing on early life risk factors and the likely mechanisms of interaction between genes and the early life environment. I will also overview some of the evidence for gene-lifestyle interactions in type 2 diabetes and obesity later in life. I will end by speculating on how research in this field might evolve in the next decade and how doing so might lead to better disease prevention and treatment.
10 - 12 Sep 2016
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology