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Human health is dependent upon environmental exposures, yet the diversity and variation in exposures is poorly understood. We developed a sensitive method to monitor personal airborne biological and chemical exposures and followed the personal exposomes of 15 individuals for up to 890 days and over 66 distinct geographical locations. We found that individuals are potentially exposed to thousands of pan-domain species and chemical compounds, including insecticides and carcinogens. Personal biological and chemical exposomes are highly dynamic and vary spatial-temporally, even for individuals located in the same general geographical region. Integrated analysis of biological and chemical exposomes revealed strong location-dependent relationships. Finally, construction of an exposome interaction network demonstrated the presence of distinct yet interconnected human- and environment-centric clouds, comprised of interacting ecosystems such as human, flora, pets and arthropods. Overall, we demonstrate that human exposomes are diverse, dynamic, spatiotemporally-driven interaction networks with the potential to impact human health.
Chao spent his Ph.D. years studying the evolution of bacterial morphology, dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying the changes in bacterial shape among different species. After obtaining his Ph.D., Chao joined Snyder lab at Stanford to develop methods and technology to comprehensively characterize personal environmental exposures through metagenomic sequencing. In the future, Chao aims to integrate the experimental and computational biology approaches to investigate the role of environmental exposures/organisms in shaping human health and the environment.