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Temple University School of Medicine Announces New Center for Metabolic Disease Research

News July 26, 2013

(Philadelphia, PA) – Temple University School of Medicine (TUSM) has launched a new Center for Metabolic Disease Research, which is committed to performing basic and clinical research identifying specific causes of metabolic diseases, and to discovering novel therapies for these diseases.

“Metabolic disease research is one of the major targeted areas for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, and TUSM leadership has responded to this call by designating it as one of the school’s four key research focus areas, along with cardiovascular, neuroscience, and cancer research,” said Arthur M. Feldman, MD, PhD, Executive Dean, TUSM and Chief Academic Officer, Temple University Health System. “Establishing a Center for Metabolic Disease Research is strategically important and timely because we will simultaneously carry out TUSM’s research mission, remain consistent with the NIH’s research focus, and reflect the national trend of interdisciplinary and translational health-related research,” Dr. Feldman added.    

Metabolic disorders – which occur when abnormal chemical reactions disrupt the body’s ability to convert food to energy – can cause serious dysfunctions in the blood vessels, heart, liver, brain, and other organs.  Metabolic dysfunctions have been recognized to be important mechanisms underlying diabetes and many other diseases, such as cardiovascular, endocrine, kidney, genetic, bone, and immune diseases.

“Temple’s Center for Metabolic Disease Research will develop interdisciplinary and translational research programs focused on metabolic diseases such as hyperlipidemia, hyperhomocysteinemia, hyperglycemia, obesity, uremia and metabolic syndrome.  Our research will study the biochemical, molecular, cellular, and pathological changes that take place before the onset of these diseases and during the course of these diseases,” said TUSM Associate Dean of Research Hong Wang, MD, PhD, EMBA, who has been named the Founding Director of the new Center.  Dr. Wang is also Professor in TUSM’s Department of Pharmacology, Independence Blue Cross Cardiovascular Research Center, and Sol Sherry Thrombosis Research Center.

As a world-renowned and nationally-recognized leader for the pioneering research in hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy), a significant and independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, Dr. Wang has extensive expertise and high-profile publications in the areas of cardiovascular inflammation, atherosclerosis, lipoprotein metabolism, vascular function, molecular mechanism, and signal transduction. Dr. Wang’s research focuses on identifying biochemical mechanisms of vascular disease and discovering therapeutic targets and novel therapeutic strategies.  Dr. Wang is the principal investigator on several active NIH-funded Research Project Grant Program (R01) studies.
“It takes a multidisciplinary team of researchers to study the mechanisms of complex metabolic disease,” said Dr. Wang.  “We have developed active collaboration with faculty from several other TUSM research centers and departments, as well as Fox Chase Cancer Center.  We welcome TUSM’s faculty members who share an interest in finding the cures for metabolic disorders for collaboration in our new Center in metabolic disease research,” she noted.

“Our Center is also employing multidisciplinary approaches for drug discovery, for example, metabolite identification (the chemical fingerprints that specific cellular metabolic processes leave behind), metabolomic screening, next-generation sequencing, proteomics, and high-throughput drug screening to discover new therapeutic targets and identify drug leads” noted Dr. Wang.

Temple’s Center for Metabolic Disease Research has established a human tissue repository to collect plasma, blood, vessel tissue, and fat tissue samples from patients with a variety of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, and it will also test novel therapeutics in human metabolic disease-related chronic tissue ischemia using cell and gene therapy approaches.
“We are confident that our Center will grow and become one of the top research enterprises in the field of metabolic disease research,” Dr. Wang added.