A new centre on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus next to Addenbrooke's Hospital will address the growing threat to public health posed by obesity, diabetes and related diseases.

Obesity is one of the fastest growing epidemics in the world, and it is increasing rapidly, including in vulnerable groups such as children and individuals living in the developing world.

Professor Steve O'Rahilly

The University of Cambridge, the Medical Research Council and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have joined forces to create the Institute of Metabolic Science (IMS).

Led by co-directors Professors Steve O'Rahilly and Nick Wareham, the IMS aspires to become a world-leading centre focused on understanding the biological basis of diabetes, obesity, and related disorders and translating those scientific discoveries into improved patient care and disease prevention.

Professor Steve O'Rahilly, co-director of the Institute said: "Obesity is one of the fastest growing epidemics in the world, and it is increasing rapidly, including in vulnerable groups such as children and individuals living in the developing world.

"As obesity increases the incidence of not only diabetes but heart disease and cancer as well, the implications on public health are significant. The new Institute will enable us to bring together scientists and clinicians to focus on obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disease which pose a growing threat to the public."

A major aim of the institute is to encourage daily interaction between basic and clinical scientists, epidemiologists and clinicians to maximise the impact of research into the prevention and treatment of these diseases and to improve the quality of patient care.

Housed in a new £15 million facility on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, the IMS brings together the Metabolic Research Laboratories (MRL) of the University of Cambridge, the MRC Epidemiology Unit, The Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrine Clinic and the Weston Centre for Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Researchers at the MRL (directed by Professor Stephen O'Rahilly) undertake laboratory and clinical research into a range of metabolic and endocrine diseases. The MRL also hosts the new MRC Centre for Translational Research in Obesity and Related Metabolic Diseases.

The MRC Epidemiology Unit, (directed by Professor Nick Wareham) uses epidemiological methods to understand genetic causes of obesity and diabetes and to translate this understanding into preventive strategies.

The two clinical areas, the Wolfson Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic and Weston Centre for Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes and Endocrinology, provide state of the art facilities for the treatment of people of all ages with diabetes, obesity and related disorders.

Professor Nick Wareham said: "The obesity epidemic is bringing with it a rise in the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. This disease arises from an interaction between the lifestyles we lead and our susceptibility to the condition as a result of our genetic background and early development. In addition to working together across scientific disciplines to understand these interactions, scientists within our Institute are developing and evaluating strategies aimed at preventing these chronic diseases."

The Centre was opened today by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alison Richard and Dr Joe Goldstein, winner of the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physiology for his work in the field of receptor-mediated endocytosis which helped lay the conceptual groundwork for development of drugs called statins that lower blood LDL-cholesterol and prevent heart attacks.


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