On the road to personalised and precision geomedicine: medical geology and a renewed call for interdisciplinarity

Maged N. Kamel Boulos, Jennifer Le Blond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Our health depends on where we currently live, as well as on where we have lived in the past and for how long in each place. An individual’s place history is particularly relevant in conditions with long latency between exposures and clinical manifestations, as is the case in many types of cancer and chronic conditions. A patient’s geographic history should routinely be considered by physicians when diagnosing and treating individual patients. It can provide useful contextual environmental information (and the corresponding health risks) about the patient, and should thus form an essential part of every electronic patient/health record. Medical geology investigations, in their attempt to document the complex relationships between the environment and human health, typically involve a multitude of disciplines and expertise. Arguably, the spatial component is the one factor that ties in all these disciplines together in medical geology studies. In a general sense, epidemiology, statistical genetics, geoscience, geomedical engineering and public and environmental health informatics tend to study data in terms of populations, whereas medicine (including personalised and precision geomedicine, and lifestyle medicine), genetics, genomics, toxicology and biomedical/health informatics more likely work on individuals or some individual mechanism describing disease. This article introduces with examples the core concepts of medical geology and geomedicine. The ultimate goals of prediction, prevention and personalised treatment in the case of geology-dependent disease can only be realised through an intensive multiple-disciplinary approach, where the various relevant disciplines collaborate together and complement each other in additive (multidisciplinary), interactive (interdisciplinary) and holistic (transdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary) manners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Medical geology
  • Geomedicine
  • Precision medicine
  • Exposomics
  • Digital health
  • Digital medicine

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