Advancing Tools for Human Early Lifecourse Exposome Research and Translation

The ATHLETE project studies the human exposome: the totality of environmental exposures from conception to adulthood over a lifetime. Data from thousands of mother-child pairs and children are included in this project.

ATHLETE aims to develop a toolbox of advanced, next-generation, exposome tools and a prospective exposome cohort, which will be used to systematically quantify the effects of a wide range of community-level and individual-level environmental risk factors on mental, cardiometabolic, and respiratory health outcomes and associated biological pathways during the first two decades of life, to implement acceptable and feasible exposome interventions, and to translate the resulting evidence to policy recommendations and prevention strategies. ATHLETE has started on 1 January 2020 and will run until 31 December 2024. 

ATHLETE will establish a prospective exposome cohort, including FAIR data infrastructure, building on Europe’s most comprehensive already existing exposome data. The project is coordinated by Fundación Privada Instituto de Salud Global Barcelona (ISGlobal). 

Innovative tool development will focus on:
1) complete and accurate measurement of multiple environmental risk factors (external/urban, chemical, physical, behavioural, social) through new targeted and untargeted exposure science approaches;
2) development of advanced statistical and toxicological strategies to analyse complex multi-dimensional exposome data;
3) development of interventions to reduce personal exposures, co-produced with the community;
4) estimation of the societal impact of the exposome by calculating costs and child health impacts. 


The project unites data from 18 cohorts from all over Europe, spanning from the prenatal phase till adolescence. The consortium consists of 22 partners in 11 countries from academia, government and non-profit organisations. The project is coordinated by Fundación Privada Instituto de Salud Global Barcelona (ISGlobal). 

RIVM role

RIVM participates in two work packages. In WP2, RIVM is task lead in determining dietary sources of exposure. This activity is aligned with other European-funded projects (e.g. EuroMix) and European cooperation (e.g. PARC and EFSA-RIVM partnerships) on developing open and transparent risk assessment methods for chemical mixtures. In WP4, RIVM is task lead for the development of Adverse Outcome Pathways and in vitro methods for developmental neurotoxicity. Corinne Sprong, Ellen Hessel, Jacob van Klaveren, Jan-Dirk te Biesebeek, Anne Zwartsen, Conny van Oostrom and Victoria de Leeuw are involved in the project. 


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N0 874583.