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Equip ISGlobal

Martine Vrijheid

Martine Vrijheid

Research Professor i directora del Programa de Medi ambient i salut al llarg de la vida Infància i medi ambient, Exposoma

Martine Vrijheid received her graduate and master's degree in Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the University of Nijmegen (NL) and her PhD in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). She worked as lecturer at LSHTM and then joined the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as staff scientist to work on environmental and occupational exposures to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

She joined CREAL (now ISGlobal Campus Mar) in 2008 where she specialises in the effects of environmental (chemical, physical, and social) exposures on child health and development. She is PI of the INMA Sabadell birth cohort study, PI of various national grants, and WP leader of many European collaborative projects in the area of child health (OBERON, AURORA, LifeCycle, STOP, EUCAN-Connect, HBM4EU). She led EC FP7 funded projects HELIX (Human Early Life Exposome) and CHICOS (Child Cohort Research Strategy for Europe), and leads the EC H2020 ATHLETE (Advancing Tools for Human Early Life Exposome Research and Translation) project and the EC Horizon Europe IHEN (International Human Exposome Network) Project. 

Línies de recerca

Her research uses longitudinal birth cohort methods, working from the general hypothesis, grounded within the DOHaD paradigm, that the foetus and child are especially vulnerable to the effects of environmental agents with possible lifelong consequences. Her research focuses particularly on: 
  • The role of environmental exposures in childhood obesity and cardiometabolic health
  • The effects of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (such as bisphenol A, phthalates, and perfluorinated compounds) on health and development of children. 
  • The integration of the exposome concept in this field. 
The “Exposome” (totality of environmental exposures over a lifetime) is an important framework to advance our understanding of the environmental component in disease etiology, which has so far mostly been tackled through one-exposure-one-disease approaches. The early life period is vulnerable to environmental hazards and important for lifelong disease prevention, making it a relevant starting point for exposome studies. She spearheaded the push for a more holistic exposome approach to study multiple, co-existing exposures and their effects on child health (neurodevelopment, cardiometabolic health, respiratory health). 

HELIX finalized the construction of a “deep” exposome database with completely comparable chemical pollutant data, geospatial urban environment data, child health outcome data, and multi-omics signatures, in mothers and children from 6 European cohorts. She is continuing early life exposome research as coordinator of the ATHLETE project, which aims to advance important challenges in exposome research through improved tools, data, and translation. 

Further, she has been instrumental in the building of a network of birth cohorts in Europe, resulting in a FAIR data infrastructure for data sharing and harmonization across more than 30 European birth cohorts. She is active in international expert panels (e.g. European Food Safety Agency EFSA, European Molecular Biology Laboratory EMBL) and translational activities.

Publicacions principals

  • Robinson O, Lau CE, …, Vrijheid M. Associations of four biological age markers with child development: a multi-omic analysis in the European HELIX cohort. ELife 2023. Doi: 0.7554/eLife.85104. 
  • Maitre L, Bustamante M, …, González JR, Keun HC, Vrijheid M. Multi-omics signatures of the human early life exposome. Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 21;13(1):7024. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34422-2. 
  • Maitre L, Julvez J, …, Vrijheid M. Early-life environmental exposure determinants of child behavior in Europe: A longitudinal, population-based study. Environ Int. 2021 Aug;153:106523. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106523. 
  • Vrijheid M, Fossati S, et al. Early-Life Environmental Exposures and Childhood Obesity: An Exposome-Wide Approach. Environ Health Perspect. 2020 Jun;128(6):67009. doi: 10.1289/EHP5975. 
  • Vrijheid M, Slama R, et al. The human early-life exposome (HELIX): project rationale and design. Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Jun;122(6):535-44. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1307204. 
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