Early Life Exposures Program

Children joining hands

The overall goal of our Early Life Exposures Program (ELEP) is to enable investigators in diverse disciplines and all career stages to train, participate, and excel in research focusing on human health and diseases that have their origins at early stages of life. As a result, the ELEP will foster a new generation of scientists trained in the complexities of translational research involving pregnant women and their offspring from infancy through childhood and adolescence. The ELEP will support new multidisciplinary collaborations among basic, clinical, and translational scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (CU-AMC) and in the CCTSI community.

Our unique ELEP is based on well-established observations that adaptations to adverse exposures in early life (fetal, neonatal, infancy, early childhood) predict disease risk with onset years to decades later. Mounting epidemiological evidence supports the novel concept that diseases as diverse as autism, obesity, diabetes, schizophrenia, cancer, hypertension, asthma, myocardial infarction, and Alzheimer’s have their origins—at least in part—in an adverse intrauterine environment.  Because of the temporal separation between cause and effect, mechanistic and interventional research is challenging in humans. However, primary prevention strategies early in development, including during pregnancy, are likely safer, more effective, and less costly than interventions later in life.The premise of our ELEP is that pre-emption of diseases and prevention of their later life consequences will improve health and quality of life by reducing disease burden and its devastating economic impact on individuals and society.

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