EFSA Scientific Colloquium N°22 ‘Epigenetics and Risk Assessment: Where do we stand?’

14 June 2016

Draft Programme (191.16 KB)

Discussion groups briefing notes (165 KB)


Epigenetic changes are molecular changes mainly in chromatin, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, that modulate gene expression directly or indirectly through the expression of non-coding RNAs. There is increasing evidence to suggest that individual lifestyles, nutrition and environmental stressors can affect epigenetic processes and as a result, alter phenotypes, longevity, health and disease both within generations (from embryogenesis to adulthood) and in a trans-generational manner. Considerable research in this area has focused on vertebrates (including human), although the number of studies published on invertebrate species and plants is rapidly increasing.

Objectives of the Colloquium

This colloquium will bring together experts dealing with epigenetics and human health, animal health and environmental risk assessment of chemicals. There will be an open scientific debate on where we stand regarding knowledge of epigenetics mechanisms and the potential use and integration of epigenetic data in chemical risk assessment.

Participants at the colloquium will critically discuss whether epigenomics data should be integrated into risk assessments, and whether this would improve hazard identification and characterisation, and make a meaningful contribution to the risk assessment process. A further objective aims at addressing molecular mechanisms, methods to investigate epigenetic effects in vitro and in in vivo, the use of epigenetic biomarkers and identifying existing data gaps and research needs.

Structure of the meeting

Colloquia are not consensus meetings: their objective is to convene leading scientists from Europe and beyond. Rather than offering a series of lectures, colloquia provide opportunities for an exchange of expert opinions and scientific debate. Following the opening plenary session with introductory keynote speeches, four smaller discussion groups (DGs) will enable participants to discuss the following four specific topics:
DG 1 – Incorporating epigenetics data in mode of action and adverse outcome pathways frameworks.
DG 2 – Epigenetics and chemical risk assessment in humans.
DG 3 – Epigenetics in risk assessment of farmed animals for food production: what do we need to consider?
DG 4 – Epigenetics and environmental risk assessment: mechanisms, testing and data gaps.
The outcomes of the discussion groups will be presented and discussed in a final plenary session to formulate conclusions of the colloquium and, potentially, recommendations.A report will summarise the outcomes of the colloquium after the meeting.

Who should attend?

Risk assessors, scientists, risk managers and policymakers are among those encouraged to attend the event. The colloquium aims particularly at researchers active in the area of epigenetics and those interested in new mechanistic approaches and methods for risk assessment (mode of action, adverse outcome pathways, OMICs, in vitro methods).

For logistical reasons and to allow in-depth discussions, participation is limited to a maximum of 120 experts.

The registrations are closed. For further information contact scientific.colloquia@efsa.europa.eu.

On-line registrants

As soon as possible after closure of registration, applicants will be informed whether they have been selected for participation. Selected participants will be asked to make their own travel arrangements when participation is confirmed. Concerning accommodation, EFSA has made a courtesy block-booking for the nights of 13th and 14th June. Selected participants will be requested to make their own reservation. There is no fee for participation.

Dates and Venue

The colloquium will take place in Valencia, Spain. The meeting will start at 08:30 on 14 June 2016 and will end at 13:30 on 15 June 2016. Further details on the venue and logistics will be communicated to participants upon confirmation of selection.


English will be the official language of the colloquium. No translation will be provided.


Briefing notes will be published on this page in the next weeks and will contain reference to relevant background documents to provide more information about the contents of each discussion group.
The presentations and the conclusions of the meeting will be made available on the EFSA website. EFSA will also publish a summary report of the event in the form of a booklet.


For more information on the scientific colloquium, please do not hesitate to contact EFSA at scientific.colloquia@efsa.europa.eu.