J1.1 At Home, Work, and Play: How Can We Better Understand the Dynamics between Physiology, Behavior, and Exposure? (Core Science Keynote)

Monday, 7 January 2019: 10:30 AM
North 228AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Rebekah Lucas, Univ. of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Current state of knowledge: Understanding how organisms function and adapt to their environmenthas a central role in unravelling the complexity of the human biological system in modern society. An ageing population, increased sedentary behaviour and co-morbidity prevalence, in addition to environmental changes (via urbanisation and climate change) all determine that the capacity of humans to tolerate and function effectively in their environment is diminishing, while that environment is becoming progressively more extreme. Consequently, the principles and application of interdisciplinary sciences such as biometeorology, environmental science and physiology has increasing relevance and importance for basic science, clinical medicine and public health. Indeed, interdisciplinary research is crucial in understanding interactions and dynamics between physiology, behaviour and exposure. Thus, interdisciplinary sciences and interdisciplinary research is fundamental in effectively addressing the complex, global problems we face today and in the future.

Future research directions: Societal, technological and medical developments have created a greater emphasis on the individual and individual responses. There are new and evolving opportunities to capture, monitor and benchmark individual responses and health metrics to environmental and physical stressors. Such data could potentially describe new environmental exposure-outcome relationships for specificpopulations andexpand our understanding of the dynamics between physiological responses, behaviour and potential performance or health outcomes at an individual as well as a population level. These advances also determine that the skills and tools (particularly with respect to hardware and software technologies) necessary to be an effective researcher are continually evolving.

Current Challenges: Increased access and acquisition of “big data” and the rise of convenience sampling must consider selection biases and how such biases may affect environmental exposure-outcome relationships. Although useful during explorative states of research, convenience sampling cannot replace hypothesis driven research and thus, the necessary biological understanding required to formulate health-orientated hypotheses. Another challenge we face is ensuring that the volume and/or detail of information that is possible to gather does not overshadowing the evidence supporting the predictive power of such data. It is also important that computational assumptions are understood and considered when analysing and interpreting data. This becomes more challenging when crossing disciplinary boundaries, where the knowledge-base and complexity of assumptions deepens. Finally, the importance of incorporating high-quality qualitative and mixed methods research is overlooked at the peril of advancing climate and health understanding and impact.

Expected benefits: With greater access to information and increasing computational power we can better quantify environmental exposure-response and exposure-effect relationships for individual and population-level health, wellbeing and performance. Such information is necessary in interpreting the impact of climate change on health outcomes at a local and global level.

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