Unprecedented research effort funded by Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI)
SAN DIEGO, Sept. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Are all calories really equal with respect to metabolism and weight change? The Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) announced today the launch of a new collaboration aimed at unambiguously answering this question, by testing the competing hypotheses of obesity and weight gain.
Six independent health and human nutrition scientists from America's leading biomedical research institutions will soon begin research through highly specialized, rigorous inpatient studies. Leading the collaboration are Co-Principal Investigators Kevin Hall, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health, NIDDK and Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Co-Investigators are Marc Reitman, M.D., Ph.D., National Institutes of Health, NIDDK; Steven R. Smith, M.D., Florida Hospital – Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute; and Rudolph Leibel, M.D. and Michael Rosenbaum, M.D., both of Columbia University Medical Center.
"As a consortium, we are in the process of designing a novel study, which represents a shift in paradigm, and may help to explain why people gain weight in our present food environment," said Dr. Ravussin.
NuSI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the economic and social burden of obesity and obesity-related chronic disease by improving the quality of science in nutrition and obesity research. NuSI was launched in 2012 with nearly $40 million in support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and other generous supporters. "With nearly 4,000 people dying every day in the United States from metabolic-related disease, we need a new approach, a new perspective, strategic funding, and a willingness to aggressively seek new information to remedy these issues," said Peter Attia, M.D., NuSI's President and Co-Founder.
"The research, designed by this team of experts and funded by NuSI, will answer key scientific questions that have the potential to change our understanding of the optimal diet," said Dr. Smith.
The first step that NuSI-funded scientists will take is to develop a pilot study testing two competing hypotheses with regard to the role of diet composition on weight loss. These results will determine what future experiments are needed to best understand the mechanisms at work underlying the obesity epidemic.
"The issue of the role of diet composition per se in energy homeostasis is a persistent one that has led to the promulgation of numerous diets based on tenuous or non-existent evidence. The proposed studies will address the relevant biology in a way that should lead to definitive answers to important questions in this ongoing debate," added Dr. Leibel.
"I am very proud to be a part of this talented research team," said Dr. Rosenbaum. "NuSI has facilitated the multi-institutional pooling of our diverse expertise and resources to definitively examine the role of diet macronutrient composition in energy balance. After extensive discussion, review, and revision, we are now ready to begin."
For more information on NuSI and its research, visit www.nusi.org.
Kevin Hall, Ph.D. National Institutes of Health, NIDDK Kevin Hall is a Senior Investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he studies macronutrient metabolism and body-weight regulation. Dr. Hall was the recipient of the 2009 Arthur C. Guyton Award for Excellence in integrative physiology from the American Physiological Society and the 2012 Lilly Scientific Achievement Award from the Obesity Society. Dr. Hall received his Ph.D. in biophysics from McGill University in 1999. From 1999 to 2003, he led the development of a computational model of human type 2 diabetes at Entelos Inc.; the model has been used by major pharmaceutical companies to assist in the research and development of new drugs. His NIH laboratory conducts experiments in both humans and rodents and develops mathematical models and computer simulations to predict and interpret the experimental data.
Eric Ravussin, Ph.D. Pennington Biomedical Research Center Eric Ravussin is a Boyd Professor at Louisiana State University, the Douglas L. Gordon Chair in Diabetes and Metabolism, and Associate Executive Director of Obesity and Diabetes at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Dr. Ravussin is recognized internationally for his contributions to the field of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus research. His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that determine inter-individual metabolic variability, as well as the relationship between physiology and gene expression in response to diet and physical training. He also pursues research investigating the effects of caloric restriction on biomarkers of aging and longevity. His previous lab at NIH was first in the world that allowed complete measurement of energy expenditure. Dr. Ravussin is the 2010 recipient of the Willendorf Award from the International Association for the Study of Obesity, the 2011 George Bray Founders Award for his contributions to the field of obesity, and serves as the Editor in Chief of Obesity.
Marc Reitman, M.D., Ph.D. National Institutes of Health, NIDDK Marc Reitman is a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity branch at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health. His research involves increasing mechanistic knowledge of energy homeostasis in order to better understand and treat diabetes and obesity. Dr. Reitman received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1983. At Merck from 2002-2011, he was a leader in obesity drug discovery efforts, both in the identification and validation of targets and the development of therapeutic molecules for those targets. Dr. Reitman's current work involves detecting how the receptor BRS-3 regulates metabolic rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. He is also exploring ways to improve the use of mice in evaluating candidate treatments for human obesity and the role of brown adipose tissue in mouse and human thermal biology and body-weight regulations. Dr. Reitman currently services as an Associate Editor of Obesity and on the American Diabetes Association Research Grant Review Panel.
Steven R. Smith, M.D. Florida Hospital – Sanford-BurnhamTranslational Research Institute Steven R. Smith is the Scientific Director of the Florida Hospital -- Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes in Orlando, Florida, where he studies obesity, diabetes, and the metabolic origins of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Smith received his M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center in 1988. Before working at Florida Hospital, he was a faculty member at Pennington Biomedical Research Center for 15 years. Dr. Smith's work in translational medicine involves bridging the gap between basic science and clinical practice. Dr. Smith discovered that many obese individuals have an inability to burn fat and discovered a new system to increase fat and energy metabolism. He also discovered that this inability to burn fat is programmed into muscle cells, providing a novel way to identify and test treatments for obesity and diabetes. Dr. Smith has a special interest in the identification and development of drugs for the treatment of obesity and diabetes. He also serves as President-elect of the Obesity Society, a nonprofit organization seeking to educate patients and physicians, reform policy, and research obesity.
Rudolph L. Leibel, M.D. Columbia University Medical Center Rudolph Leibel is the Christopher J. Murphy Professor of Diabetes Research, a professor of pediatrics and medicine, and head of the Division of Molecular Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center. He is also Co-Director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, the New York Obesity Research Center, and the Columbia University Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center. Dr. Leibel has worked in obesity research for over 25 years. His current research focuses on the molecular genetics of body-weight control, the bioenergetics and role of leptin in body-weight regulation, and the molecular genetics of type 2 diabetes. He has worked toward cloning and characterizing a number of genes related to body weight and diabetes regulation, including cloning and characterization of leptin and leptin receptor genes. His current work includes the use of stem cells to elucidate the molecular processes of diabetes and obesity. Dr. Leibel is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and has served as a member of the Federal Advisory Council for National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Michael Rosenbaum, M.D. Columbia University Medical Center Michael Rosenbaum is professor of pediatrics and medicine at CUMC and associate program director of the Clinical and Translational Science Award and Clinical Research Resource at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Rosenbaum received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College. Drs. Rosenbaum and Leibel developed a unique in-patient study design to enable studies of the metabolic, endocrine, and nervous system functions that make weight- loss maintenance so difficult. These studies involve an international group of collaborators and should provide a means to develop and test therapies to sustain weight loss. Dr. Rosenbaum is also principal investigator on the ROAD project, a multi-site study examining the effects of an innovative intervention for risk factors of diabetes and its co-morbidities in children. Dr. Rosenbaum received Columbia's Physician of the Year award in 2001, and the Science Unbound Award for Obesity-Related Research in 2010. His research was recently profiled in the HBO series, "Weight of the Nation."
*Opinions and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the NIH.