About the Seminar
Environmental factors account for more than 80% of chronic diseases risk, implying that most diseases are preventable. These environmental or non-genetic factors include exposures related to the environment, occupation, diet, behavior and endogenous processes. A measure of all these non-genetic factors and related biological responses over the course of an individual’s lifetime is collectively termed the exposome. An individual is potentially exposed to over a million chemicals. Therefore, we cannot rely on conventional exposure assessment tools alone to determine which of these complex exposures pose health risks and at what levels. In this seminar, I will discuss some novel exposure assessment tools, methods and data that my research work has contributed to advancing the emerging field of exposomic research. The talk will exemplify my multidisciplinary research program that aims to characterize the exposome and understand how it influences population health to inform preventive interventions including exposure reduction and early diagnosis of disease.
About the Speaker
Joseph Okeme has a BSc in Environmental Toxicology, an MSc in Instrumental Analytical Sciences and a PhD in Physical and Environmental Sciences. The focus of his research program is to advance our understanding of how environmental risks factors influence disease using novel technologies. He received his PhD in 2017 under the supervision of Prof. Miriam Diamond at the University of Toronto. His thesis forms the foundation for designing and using novel silicone rubber passive samplers in assessing exposure to a plethora of airborne contaminants of health concern. As part of his PhD thesis, he also developed a novel method that applied the gas chromatography retention time (GC-RT) method to measuring physical-chemical properties of some chemicals of emerging concern, including novel brominated flame retardants (NBFRs) and organophosphate esters (OPEs). He is currently holding a Banting Fellowship with Dr. Krystal Pollitt (Yale School of Public Health) and Dr. Gary Miller (The Mailman’s School of Public Health, Columbia University). The goal of his current research work is to evaluate environmental risks factors for pediatrics Crohn’s disease by identifying and quantifying exposure and disease biomarkers. The project is a multi-center collaboration between Yale University, Boston Children’s Hospital, Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich, SickKids Hospital Toronto and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Before moving to Yale, he worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Care Ontario-Ontario Health (OCRC-OH) with Prof. Paul Demers and Prof. Victoria Arrandale. He still keeps his affiliation at OCRC-OH where he is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar. In both capacities, he is leading international projects teams assessing 1) exposure of firefighters to carcinogens through novel high-resolution metabolomics, 2) mechanistic understanding of exposure source and pathways of the US population, and 3) cancer risks among electronic workers in a Canadian cohort. His contribution ranges from applying for ethics approval, recruiting study participants, coordinating collaborations, mentoring HQP, analyzing and interpreting high throughput data and preparing manuscripts.