Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Chair in Environmental Epidemiology



+44 (0)20 7594 3372p.vineis Website




511Medical SchoolSt Mary's Campus





Professor Paolo Vineis is Chair of Environmental Epidemiology at Imperial College, London.

He leads the Exposome and Health theme of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environmentand Health at Imperial College ( exposome-and-health).

He coordinates the Working Group on Climate Change and Health at the School of Public Health and the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London (

He is Head of the Unit of Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology at the HuGeF Foundation, Torino, Italy.

 Paolo Vineis is a leading researcher in the fields of molecular epidemiology and  exposomics. His latest research activities mainly focus on examining biomarkers of disease risk, complex exposures and intermediate biomarkers from omic platforms (including metabolomics and epigenetics) in large epidemiological studies as well as studying the effects of climate change on non-communicable diseases. He has more than 700 publications (many as leading author) in journals such as Nature, Nature Genetics, Lancet, Lancet Oncology. He is a member of various international scientific and ethics committees (including the Committee of the US National Academy of Sciences on 21st Century Risk Assessment) and vice-chair of the Ethics Committee at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC,WHO). He has been a member of the Scientific Council of IARC.

Professor Vineis has extensive experience in leading International projects. He is currently coordinating the European Commission funded Exposomics project (valued  at €8.7m, started in 2012) and the Horizon 2020-funded project Lifepath (valued at €6 million, started in 2015). He is a Principal Investigator/Co-investigator of numerous international research projects, such as the European Commission funded GENAIR, ECNIS2, Envirogenomarkers, Hypergenes, ESCAPE and Transphorm networks, in which he has led WorkPackages. In addition he has attracted grants from the Leverhulme Trust, MRC, Cancer Research UK, HuGeF Foundation and the US National Cancer Institute. He is the director of the Unit of Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology, HuGeF Foundation, Torino, Italy and leads the Exposome and Health theme of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environmentand Health at Imperial College ( exposome-and-health

Academic positions

 Since 2004 -Chair of Environmental Epidemiology, Imperial College, London, UK

Since 2010 - Director, Unit of Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, HuGeF Foundation, Torino, Italy ( index.php)

Since 2001 - Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, USA


Co-Director of BSc course – Global Health ( publichealth/education/undergrad/bscglobalhealth/)

Research - Working Groups


The exposome refers to the totality of internal and external exposures which interact at a cellular and systems level to generate a metabolic/molecular signature which can be used to gain new understanding of the transition from health to disease. Such exposures come from a variety of sources including chemical and biological agents, gut microbial and psycho-social  factors  from  pre-conception  onwards,  i.e.,  over  the  lifecourse.  Assessment  of  the exposome at different stages of the lifecourse gives new insights into causal factors and mechanisms, which eventually may lead to new preventive strategies and treatments for chronic disease.        
The exposome concept takes advantage of the rapid advances and availability in new technologies and the omics sciences. The external exposome can be measured with new more sensitive personal monitors and sensors. The internal exposome and the biological changes it induces in body molecules can be measured with high-throughput methods such as metabolomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, adductomics and epigenomics. 


Exposomics is a European collaborative project with the following goals:

(a)                        To use advanced personal exposure monitoring to accurately measure the air and water pollution related external exposome

(b)                        To use high-throughput methods (adductomics, proteomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, epigenomis) to measure the internal exposome

(c)  To integrate knowledge from the methods above to estimate the risk of disease in several population-based studies in Europe.

(see website

Team at Imperial College

Paolo Vineis (Principal Investigator), John Gulliver, Marc Chadeau-Hyam, Toby Athersuch, Michelle Plusquin, Florence Guida, Karin Van Veldhoven, Terrence Simmons

Funding: This project is funded by the European Commission (FP7).


Selected papers

Beelen R et al. Effects of long-term exposure to air pollution on natural-cause mortality: an analysis of 22 European cohorts within the multicentre ESCAPE project. Lancet. 2014 Mar 1;383(9919):785-95.

Raaschou-Nielsen O et al. Air pollution and lung cancer incidence in 17 European cohorts: prospective analyses from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE). Lancet Oncol. 2013 Aug;14(9):813-22.

Rappaport SM, Barupal DK, Wishart D, Vineis P, Scalbert A. The blood exposome and its role in discovering causes of disease. Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Aug;122(8):769-74

 Vineis P, van Veldhoven K, Chadeau-Hyam M, Athersuch TJ. Advancing the application of omics-based biomarkers in environmental epidemiology. Environ Mol Mutagen. 2013 Aug;54(7):461-7


 Healthy ageing is an achievable goal in society as it is already experienced by individuals in the highest socioeconomic groups. Individuals with high socioeconomic status (SES) experience much better health and healthy ageing than groups with low socioeconomic status. The overarching aim of LIFEPATH is to provide updated, relevant and innovative evidence for underpinning future policies and strategies for the promotion of healthy ageing, targeted disease prevention and clinical interventions that address the issue of social disparities in ageing and the social determinants of health. Our project stems from the following hypotheses: (a) healthy ageing begins at conception, if not before; (b) ageing involves a progressive differentiation across social groups; and (c) biological changes underpin the effect of complex environmental, behavioural and social patterns and can be traced with omic technologies. In early-life (defined as a capacity “build-up phase”), environmental and social circumstances influence healthy aging by determining the maximum attained health; in later life (defined as a “decline phase”), they influence ageing processes through earlier and/or steeper declines in capacity, function, wellbeing, and increased pathology and mortality. The gap between social groups in terms of mortality, functional performances and cognitive capacity accumulates over the two phases resulting in widening inequalities with ageing. Biological changes deriving from adverse environmental and social circumstances are potentially reversible and preventable although rapid deteriorations are also possible as a consequence of macro-scale phenomena such as the economic recession.

The Lifepath project is coordinated by P Vineis at ICL and funded by the European Commission. The objectives of the project are: to show that healthy ageing is an achievable goal for society, as it is already experienced by individuals of high socio-economic status (SES); to improve the understanding of the mechanisms through which healthy ageing pathways diverge by SES, by investigating lifecourse biological pathways using omic technologies; to examine the consequences of the current economic recession on health and the biology of ageing (and the consequent increase in social inequalities; to provide updated, relevant and innovative evidence for healthy ageing policies (particularly “health in all policies”) that address social disparities in ageing and the social determinants of health, using both observational studies as well as an experimental approach based on the existing "conditional cash transfer" experiment in New York.

These objectives will be accomplished by using different data sources:

1. Europe-wide and national surveys (updated to 2010), including EU-27.

2. Longitudinal cohorts (across Europe) with intense phenotyping and repeat biological samples (total population >33,000).

3. Other large cohorts with biological samples (total population >202,000) and a large registry dataset with over a million individuals and very rich information on work trajectories and health.

4. A randomized experiment on conditional cash transfer for poverty reduction in New York City.

Data will be harmonized and integrated to conceptualize healthy ageing as a composite outcome at different stages of life, resulting from life-course environmental, behavioural and social determinants.

Partners include University College London (M Kivimaki, M Marmot), The Lausanne University (S Stringhini), The Erasmus University in Rotterdam (J Mackenbach), the London School of Economics (M Avendano), the Toulouse University (T Lang), the Columbia University in New York (P Muennig), the Finnish Institute for Occupational Health (H Alenius), The University of Torino (G Costa), The HuGeF Foundation (S Polidoro), INSERM Paris (M Goldberg, F Clavel), Trinity College Dublin (R Layte), the Zadig SME (R Satolli), the Lisbon University (H Barros) and the Cancer Institute of Victoria, Australia (G Giles).


The WG works across the School of Public Health, the School of Engineering and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. Current Members: Paolo Vineis (Coordinator), Adrian Butler (School of Engineering, Hydrology), Kris Murray (Member, Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Global change ecology and health), Pauline Scheelbeek (PhD student, School of Public Health, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health), Mohammad Hoque (PDRA, School of Engineering, Hydrology), Aneire Khan (collaborator, Dhaka), Francesca De Donato (PhD student, School of Public Health, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health ),Terrence Simmons (Project Manager, School of Public Health, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health).

Current activities:

Climate change and salinity in Bangladesh

High drinking water salinity is found in deltaic areas around the world that frequently experience salt-water inundations. Climatic changes increase the inundation risk of vulnerable areas. The study area where we work, located in southwest Bangladesh, is one of most vulnerable areas in Southeast Asia. Due to the high population density, unprotected structure of most drinking water sources and lack of alternative (ground water) options, inundation-based salinization of drinking water sources is severe. Sodium concentrations above 1000mg/l have been measured in the area. The IPCC reports to have high confidence that salinity problems in the study area – and similar deltaic areas around the world – will further expand in the near future. Populations in these deltaic areas are often poor and lack resources to obtain water from alternative sources; they fully rely on highly saline water. The current salinity levels were estimated to cause an additional salt intake in magnitude of grams for a large share of the population.


(a)             to investigate the hydrology of salinity in coastal Bangladesh with a proper approach based on up-to-date technology;

(b)            to estimate the health impact of salinity, in particular on blood pressure;

(c)             to set up an intervention study based on the instalment of artificial aquifers and other methods in the coastal area by Dhaka University;

(d)            to extrapolate the findings on salinity and health to other coastal areas in the world via satellite imaging.

This work is based on a collaboration with the School of Engineering, Bangor University, Dhaka University and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B).

Funding: The project is funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust.


 Selected papers

Khan AE, Scheelbeek PF, Shilpi AB, Chan Q, Mojumder SK, Rahman A, Haines A, Vineis P.  Salinity in drinking water and the risk of (pre)eclampsia and gestational hypertension in coastal Bangladesh: a case-control study. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 30;9(9):e108715.       

Vineis P, Khan A. Climate change-induced salinity threatens health.
Science. 2012 Nov 23;338(6110):1028-9.    

Vineis P, Chan Q, Khan A. Climate change impacts on water salinity and health. J Epidemiol Glob Health. 2011 Dec;1(1):5-10.


The MRC-PHE Centre on Environment and Health is conducting a large work programme in biomarker research which helps to underpin the Centre research themes, by developing and validating biological (internal) markers and incorporating them into epidemiological research. Such research includes several collaborative projects in which techniques able to detect hundreds to many thousands of signals in body fluids (proteomics, metabonomics and transcriptomics) are used to characterise exposures to environmental contaminants and identify intermediate markers that lead to chronic diseases. These investigations take advantage of the large prospective investigations with Biobanks available at the Centre, including EPIC and Lolipop. Our strategy has several goals: (a) generate new hypotheses on the etiology of non-communicable diseases (60% of cancer is still unexplained, and much more of neurological disease); (b) lend biological credibility to associations found in observational studies, and strengthen causality; (c) identify mechanisms of action of environmental exposures; (d) contribute to the estimation of the burden of disease associated with environmental factors.

In particular, we have a strong programme on epigenomics, in collaboration with research groups across Imperial College (Brown, Flanagan) and internationally (HuGeF, International Agency for Research on Cancer). We have launched (Flanagan, Vineis) a consortium for the pooled analysis of epigenome-wide studies (EWAC), which encompasses 12 different cohort studies in Europe, US and Australia with genome-wide methylation data in relation to environmental exposures.         

Examples of novel biomarkers identified within the Centre include: strong and novel transcriptomic signals identified in relation to chronic lymphocytic leukemia (1); the predictive ability of (14;18) translocations in white blood cells for follicular lymphoma (2); a novel long term biomarker of past exposure to tobacco smoke (methylation of AHRR) (3, 4); and omic measures in relation to external exposures (heavy metals, POPs) (5). Papers are in preparation or in press on novel epigenetic markers of obesity and of lung cancer.

  1. Chadeau-Hyam M. Ann Oncol. 2014 May;25(5):1065-722.
  2. Roulland S, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2014 May 1;32(13):1347-55;
  3. Guida F et al.  Hum Mol Genet. 2015 Apr 15;24(8):2349-59;
  4. Shenker N et al. Hum Mol Genet. 2013;22(5):843-51;
  5. Kelly et al. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 28;8(11):e81892;

Members: Paolo Vineis, James Flanagan, Bob Brown, Marc Chadeau-Hyam, Marc Gunter, Karin Van Veldhoven, Gianluca Campanella, Michelle Plusquin, Florence Guida, Rachel Kelly

Other papers

Wild CP, Bucher JR, de Jong BW, Dillner J, von Gertten C, Groopman JD, Herceg Z, Holmes E, Holmila R, Olsen JH, Ringborg U, Scalbert A, Shibata T, Smith MT, Ulrich C, Vineis P, McLaughlin J. Translational cancer research: balancing prevention and treatment to combat cancer globally. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014 Dec 16;107(1):353.

Vineis P, Wild CP. Global cancer patterns: causes and prevention. Lancet. 2014; 383(9916): 549-57.


1992-1994: President, Italian Association of Epidemiology

1995-1998: Member of the Scientific Council, International

Agency for Research on Cancer

2003- : Member of the scientific committee, Italian

Association for Cancer Research

2004-2010: Member of the Advisory Board, UK Molecular

Epidemiology Group

2005-2013: Member, Committee on carcinogenicity of chemicals of the

UK Department of  Health (COC).

2007-2010: Member, Consiglio Superiore di Sanità

(Department of  Health, Italy)

2008- : Member, Scientific Board, BIOS Centre for Studies

In Biopolitics, University of Piemonte Orientale

2008-2013: Member, Ethics and Governing Council, UK

Biobank, Wellcome Trust

2008- : Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Canceropole

Paris Ile-de-France

2009-: PI, Biomarkers section (now Exposome and Health), MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health at ICL and King’s College

2010–: Vice-Chair, Ethics Committee, International

Agency for Research on Cancer

2015-2016: Member, US National Academy of Science Committee on 21st Century Risk Assessment


 Vineis P et al. Metabolic Polymorphisms and Susceptibility to Cancer. Scientific Publication No. 48. INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER (1999).

Vineis P. Nel crepuscolo della probabilita''. Einaudi, Torino (1999).

Molecular Epidemiology of Chronic Diseases.  Eds C. Wild, P. Vineis and S. Garte, published byWiley Press, 2008


 Since 1993: Editorial Consultant of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology

Since 1995: member of the Editorial Board of Biomarkers

Since 1998: member of the Editorial Board of Mutation Research-Reviews in Mutation Research

Since 2000: member of the Editorial Board, International Journal of Cancer

Since 2003: member of the Editorial Board, Cancer Epidemiology. Biomarkers and Prevention

Since 2004: member of the Editorial Board, Carcinogenesis

Since 2008: member of the Editorial Board, European Journal of Cancer

Since 2009: Associate Editor, Journal of Cancer Epidemiology

Since 2009: Associate Editor, European Journal of Clinical Investigations

2010-2014: Senior Editor, Mutagenesis


2005 - Distinguished lectures in occupational and environmental epidemiology: ”The integration of mechanistic data into the evaluation of environmental carcinogens”, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda (USA), Branch of Epidemiology, US National Cancer Institute

2010 Enrico Fermi Award for best Italian book on public understanding of science

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Johansson M, Relton C, Ueland PM, et al., 2010, Serum B vitamin levels and risk of lung cancer., Jama, Vol:303, Pages:2377-2385

Shenker NS, Polidoro S, van Veldhoven K, et al., 2013, Epigenome-wide association study in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Turin) identifies novel genetic loci associated with smoking, Human Molecular Genetics, Vol:22, ISSN:0964-6906, Pages:843-851

Chuang S-C, Norat T, Murphy N, et al., 2012, Fiber intake and total and cause-specific mortality in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol:96, ISSN:0002-9165, Pages:164-174

Hoggart C, Brennan P, Tjonneland A, et al., 2012, A Risk Model for Lung Cancer Incidence, Cancer Prevention Research, Vol:5, ISSN:1940-6207, Pages:834-846

Gallo V, Egger M, McCormack V, et al., 2011, STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology-Molecular Epidemiology (STROBE-ME): An Extension of the STROBE Statement, PLOS Medicine, Vol:8, ISSN:1549-1277

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