NINR Explores Role of Genes, Social Environment on Health
While it has long been recognized that social environment can influence risk, manifestation and trajectory of disease and associated symptoms, the underlying biological mechanisms remain understudied. NINR recently partnered with colleagues across NIH to host the “Genomic Response to the Social Environment: Implications for Health Outcomes” workshop, which examined this research area.
The trans-disciplinary event provided a platform to address the relationship among genomics (epigenomics, gene expression, microbiome, telomeres), social environmental factors and both positive and negative health outcomes. Researchers from around the country delivered presentations on a diverse set of topics that crosscut diseases, populations and the lifespan.
Presenters talked about changes at the cellular level that occur when disease processes are altered by environmental or social adversity. Much of this leads to inflammatory gene expression, which has negative health impacts. However, the flip side is that research has also shown that improving well-being, for example by finding greater purpose in life, can have a positive impact on health by reducing inflammatory genes and increasing positive gene expression.
A recording of the full workshop is available at https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=37955.
NINR was supported by the NIH Office of Disease Prevention and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research for the workshop.