Welcome from the Chair

Thank you for taking a look at the Committee on Molecular Metabolism& Nutrition (CMMN). This is a dynamic and energetic graduate student program – where the faculty are conducting cutting edge research related to metabolism and disease. This is a rather unique program, one of the few in United States, focused on metabolism and metabolic diseases such as Diabetes, Obesity, Sleep Disorders, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease etc. So if you are interested in entering graduate school and intrigued about state of the art metabolic research, then the CMMN at the University of Chicago is something to seriously consider.

Metabolism and nutrition, to some, might seem a dated subject area and that all that is needed to be known is known already. This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially considering the current epidemics in obesity and diabetes, the increase in gastrointestinal and emergence of new metabolic and endocrine syndromes. Metabolism and nutrition are highly relevant and important areas of biomedical research today. Indeed, applying modern day technologies and molecular approaches to metabolism is one the hottest areas of biological research today. There are still many relevant questions to be answered in understanding metabolism at the molecular level today.

The area of metabolic research has been, and still is, a wealth of discovery. In general, it has a very credible history, arguably awarded the Noble prize in the category of Physiology or Medicine no less than 25 times - from Pavlov’s work on the physiology of the digestive system in 1904 to Marshall’s and Warren’s award in 2005 for Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. If one takes the example of the just the anabolic insulin hormone– it alone has been awarded the Noble prize 4 times (1923 - for the discovery of insulin, 1958 – insulin was the first protein to have its amino acid sequenced, 1977 - for the radioimmunoassay used to measure insulin, 1980 – insulin was the first gene sequenced). Research in metabolism has been setting the pace in inventing new technologies and driving them forward for good use for over a century. This, in turn, has influenced many other fields or biomedical research that have taken hold of techniques and technologies first used to study metabolism. Metabolic research also has a noteworthy and prestigious history at the University of Chicago, especially when associated to diabetes and obesity research but also other areas.  For example, research into the regulation of cholesterol biosynthesis (incidentally initiated by Konrad Bloch at the University of Chicago) led to the generation of the ‘statin class’ drugs used effectively today to lower blood cholesterol levels. Changes in metabolism have wide reaching implications for many diseases. Cancer risk is increased in obesity and certain cancers can adversely affect metabolism. Immunology and inflammatory responses are key to some digestive diseases and the pathogenesis of type-1 and -2 diabetes.  Finally, researchers at the University of Chicago has been a leader in establishing mechanistic metabolic and hormonal connections between altered sleep duration and quality, derangements in insulin sensitivity and weight gain.

The CMMN is a stimulating platform for a motivated graduate student to gain a wealth of experience and expertise in biological sciences and research at the University of Chicago, where metabolic research has flourished for over a hundred years. Another major strength of the program is found in its unique interdisciplinary nature.  Faculty from across multiple clinical sections and basic research departments with an interest in metabolic research (broadly defined) are welcomed to join the Committee.  Thus all faculty voluntarily associate with CMMN the sole purpose of furthering their metabolic research and mentoring outstanding graduate students.  CMMN is an outstanding vehicle of enabling a graduate student to gain the appropriate knowledge, skill and qualifications in good time at the very highest level. The close interaction between students and faculty consistently generates high quality scientific work, and the majority of students are going on to establish excellent paths in building their own future scientific careers in multiple different areas.

-- Dr. Matthew Brady

Chair, Committee on Molecular Metabolism & Nutrition