Although it is recognized that many common complex diseases are a result of multiple genetic and environmental risk factors, studies of gene-environment interaction remain a challenge and have had limited success to date. Given the current state-of-the-science, NIH sought input on ways to accelerate investigations of gene-environment interplay in health and disease by inviting experts from a variety of disciplines to give advice about the future direction of gene-environment interaction studies. Participants of the NIH Gene-Environment Interplay Workshop agreed that there is a need for continued emphasis on studies of the interplay between genetic and environmental factors in disease and that studies need to be designed around a multifaceted approach to reflect differences in diseases, exposure attributes, and pertinent stages of human development. The participants indicated that both targeted and agnostic approaches have strengths and weaknesses for evaluating main effects of genetic and environmental factors and their interactions. The unique perspectives represented at the workshop allowed the exploration of diverse study designs and analytical strategies, and conveyed the need for an interdisciplinary approach including data sharing, and data harmonization to fully explore gene-environment interactions. Further, participants also emphasized the continued need for high-quality measures of environmental exposures and new genomic technologies in ongoing and new studies.
© 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.