Genomic Control of Metabolism

What is genomic control of metabolism?

The sequence of the genome and its differential expression in a given tissue or cell is determined by the epigenome, and provides the basis for controlling physiological and pathophysiological processes. This principle applies to metabolism as well. In turn, changes in metabolism can impact the expression of the genome by inducing epigenetic changes. Understanding these bidirectional regulatory processes, and the network of genes and proteins underpinning metabolic control in health and disease, can be unraveled using today’s sophisticated technology. Dissecting these pathways will provide insights and opportunities for developing new therapies in major diseases.

What is the focus of our program? What questions are
we asking?

The focus of our program is to dissect and understand the genomic and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms responsible for proper metabolic control to maintain homeostasis. We primarily study diseases in adipose tissue, liver, muscle, and immune cells. Particular emphasis is put on defining the role of key transcriptional regulatory proteins and nuclear hormone receptors in metabolic processes at the cellular level, in animal models, and in human disease. Another theme of our research is the systems-level analysis of metabolic processes using integrated experimental and bioinformatics approaches.

How will our research help patients?

Our research will include studies of fundamental physiological mechanisms and pathophysiological processes in metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, chronic inflammation, and others, using genomic, epigenetic, and systems-level approaches. The methods we use allow us to see the entire genome, making it more likely that we will find key changes related to a particular disease—and find reliable biomarkers to monitor disease. The biomarkers that we discover may be used to diagnose and/or to monitor disease progression and response to therapy. We anticipate that some of the disease-causing mechanisms and networks identified will be amenable to therapeutic interventions using small molecules or biological modulators. Research carried out in the program will therefore lead to better diagnosis and potentially novel therapies of metabolic diseases.

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