Metabolic disease is a massive worldwide health problem as illustrated by the current epidemics in obesity and type 2 diabetes, which is especially prominent in the United States and showing no sign of abating. As such, there is an urgent need for metabolism research to face this alarming situation. However, there are relatively few training programs across the country specifically dedicated to the training of bright young researchers in metabolism at the systemic, cellular and molecular level. To address this need we have set up the Molecular Metabolism Training Program (MMTP) at the University of Chicago which incorporates the Committee on Molecular Metabolism &Nutrition (CMMN) that is one of the few, perhaps the only, graduate programs in the United States granting a PhD in molecular metabolism. A successful training program in metabolism requires a multi- and inter-disciplinary approach, made up of researchers with a wide variety of technical skills and research experience. The MMTP takes advantage of the marvelous and highly interactive biomedical environment and strong traditions in metabolic and diabetes research at the University of Chicago. The trainers in the MMTP, in whose laboratories MMTP trainees will conduct their research projects, have primary appointments across many departments and sections of the Biological Sciences Division, to cover most of the diversity in metabolism research. Being interdepartmental, the MMTP pre- and postdoctoral trainees can take courses and gain experience in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Genetics, Medicine, Pathology, Immunology, Physiology and Neurobiology with a required comprehensive specialized metabolism core-curriculum. Trainees are also required to attend metabolism journal clubs, data sessions, seminar series, and an annual retreat. Participation in National and International metabolism, diabetes and/or obesity scientific meetings is expected. There is strong institutional support, as well as a significant allocation of new research space and equipment for this fast growing MMTP. Many outstanding applicants apply to the MMTP and the recruitment success rate is very high. Pre-doctoral trainees recently graduated from the CMMN/MMTP have found postdoctoral positions in outstanding academic metabolism research laboratories. Although newly established, the ultimate goal of the MMTP is to set up young researchers on the path to become independent academic metabolism research scientists and mentors themselves - dedicated to excellent scholarship and making breakthrough discoveries in metabolic disease and diabetes/obesity research that will lead to new therapies to better treat, prevent and perhaps even cure these disorders.
Metabolism is required for life and impinges on almost every disease state, but despite this fact, as well as a resurgent interest for metabolic disease research (partly driven by worrisome epidemics in obesity and diabetes), there are insufficient specialized basic/translational researchers to tackle these huge metabolic health problems. The newly established MMTP at the University of Chicago has clear relevance to produce much needed, highly qualified and experienced young researchers specialized in molecular metabolism to make new discoveries that in turn benefit the many who suffer from metabolic diseases like diabetes/obesity.
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