In 2022, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) established the new Office of Neural Exposome and Toxicology Research (ONETOX) led by Dr. David A. Jett. ONETOX supports a new emphasis on noninheritable factors of neurological disease and disorders within the NINDS mission. The concept of the term “exposome” coined in 2005 includes all exogenous (e.g., environmental toxicants and climate), endogenous (e.g., microbiome and epigenetic mechanisms), and behavioral (e.g., psychosocial stress and lifestyle) risk factors.
ONETOX seeks to promote exposomic research by engaging the neuroscience community across the basic-translational-clinical continuum to focus on the effect of internal, external, and behavioral risk factors on neurological health. This will require collaboration with other scientific communities that have expertise in exposomic risk factors. Since its launch, the office has developed several funding opportunities that have resulted in projects within all three risk factor categories. ONETOX has also conducted several outreach efforts at annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience, the Society of Toxicology, and other venues.
To guide near- and medium-term efforts to cultivate neural exposome research, NINDS is embarking on a two-phased strategic planning effort. Phase one will be conducted by a Working Group of the NANDS Council comprised of external experts to identify research priorities. Phase two will be conducted by an internal NINDS working group, led by ONETOX and comprised of program staff across all extramural research divisions, who will develop an implementation plan.
Goals for the overall strategic plan include:
- Better define what part of exposome research is within the NINDS mission
- Identify and prioritize areas of neural exposome research within the NINDS mission
- Identify best practices for communicating with and engaging neuroscientists in exposome research
- Identify best practices for fostering more collaboration between NINDS and other NIH institutes
- Identify tools and resources that advance neural exposome research
Charge to the Council Working Group (Phase 1)
The Neural Exposome Top Priorities Working Group (NEXT WG) is charged with identifying the most tractable and highest impact research opportunities across the three exposomic categories (exogenous, endogenous, and behavioral factors), including near (1-3 years) and medium-term priorities (3-10 years). The WG will also provide recommendations on best practices for engaging neuroscientists and promoting neural exposome research in the NINDS mission space and what tools and resources are needed (or could be leveraged) to cultivate neural exposome research. Throughout its deliberations, the WG will consider and review the following information as well as additional data that NINDS and the WG Chair deem appropriate:
- Current exposome research efforts at NINDS and other NIH institutes, including a portfolio analysis of NIH neural exposome research awards prepared by NINDS staff;
- Current neural exposome efforts led by external public and private institutions/entities;
- Selected literature to support the identification of gaps and opportunities in neural exposome research; and
- Public input gathered through workshops organized by NINDS staff and/or other vehicles.
WG members are asked to rely primarily on their expertise and knowledge of relevant research to propose and prioritize gaps and opportunities in areas of neural exposome research. The WG is not expected to conduct a comprehensive literature review or landscape analysis.
Working Group Composition
The Working Group includes two members of the NANDS Council and is composed of investigators with basic, pre-clinical, and clinical research expertise in neurobiology, diverse neurological conditions, and exposomic research. For example, Working Group members include field-leading scientists who study the influence on neurologic function and disease of environmental toxins, climate, social and built environments, behavioral factors (e.g., psychosocial stress and lifestyle factors), and ‘omics-related mechanisms (i.e., microbiome, metabolome, epigenome), among other topics. WG members bring additional expertise in exposome methodologies and technological applications, interdisciplinary science and collaboration, and a broad array of neurological disease mechanisms.
|Pam Lein, PhD (Chair)||University of California, Davis|
|Gina Poe, PhD (Member of NANDS Council)||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Ekemini Riley, PhD (Member of NANDS Council)||Aligning Science Across Parkinson's|
|Deborah Cory-Slechta, PhD||University of Rochester Medical Center|
|Ray Dorsey, MD||University of Rochester Medical Center|
|Richard L. Doty, PhD||University of Pennsylvania|
|Eva Feldman, MD, PhD||Michigan Medicine|
|Tim Greenamyre, MD, PhD||University of Pittsburgh|
|Amy J.H. Kind, MD, PhD||University of Wisconsin|
|Eve Marder, PhD||Brandeis University|
|Gary Miller, PhD||Columbia University|
|Haydeh Payami, PhD||University of Alabama at Birmingham|
|Robert O Wright, MD, MPH||Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai|