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
"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-Burnham Translational 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
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.
SOURCE Nutrition Science Initiative