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Burnham Institute for Medical Research and Duke University Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center Announce Metabolic Research Collaboration

ORLANDO, Fla. , September 17, 2009

News Release
A new collaborative research program that will use the power of metabolomic profiling to help advance the concept of personalized medicine was announced September 17, 2009, by the Burnham Institute for Medical Research and the Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center at Duke University Medical Center.

The research agreement will establish an extension of Duke’s Stedman Center laboratory at Burnham’s Lake Nona campus in Orlando, and combine the Stedman Center’s metabolite profiling expertise (“metabolomics”) with Burnham’s emerging complementary technologies. The collaboration, which will begin in the fall, will clarify the basic mechanisms of disease and identify biomarkers for disease diagnosis and drug action.

The Stedman Center is highly regarded for its metabolic research, including metabolomics profiling of biological samples using mass spectrometry-based technologies. The newly formed Burnham-Stedman metabolomics platform will spawn collaborative opportunities with a larger set of scientists focused on metabolism, thereby expanding the research capacity and the opportunity to develop new technologies for both Duke and Burnham.

“At the Stedman Center, we have been developing sophisticated tools for metabolic profiling for the past six years. Now we have an opportunity to share and further develop those tools and their applications with a major emergent program in metabolic disease research at the Burnham, Lake Nona campus,” said Dr. Christopher B. Newgard, director of the Stedman Center and W. David and Sarah W. Stedman Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology at Duke Medical Center.

Download photos from the announcement

Metabolomic profiling is a highly sophisticated technology with potential application to every possible disease process and to research ranging from basic laboratory studies to human clinical studies. The Stedman team recently applied metabolomic technologies to uncover new mechanisms by which overnutrition and obesity leads to insulin resistance, an important contributing condition to type 2 diabetes, and to identify metabolic “signatures” of developing cardiovascular disease.

“Burnham and Stedman Center scientists will be able to exploit the power of these technologies to define disease signatures relevant to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases,” said Dr. Daniel Kelly, scientific director, Burnham at Lake Nona. “Metabolomic approaches show great promise for identifying diagnostic markers that will aid clinicians in distinguishing disease patterns and in developing individualized treatment plans.”

Metabolomics is a research discipline whereby tiny amounts of biological source material such as blood or cells are analyzed to profile thousands of metabolites. Changes in the levels and composition of metabolites provide a window to monitor biological processes and the course of a disease. Novel insights into the cause of disease can be gleaned from the alteration of this vast constellation of metabolites.

Stedman Center scientists will join Burnham researchers at the Lake Nona campus to establish a series of assays for specific metabolites. It is envisioned this technology platform will promote collaborative studies between the Stedman Center and Burnham.

Q. What is metabolomics?
A. Metabolomics or metabolic profiling refers to the modern ability to measure the levels of many of the intermediary chemicals (metabolites) found in the human body that provide information about a person’s traits or characteristics and presence or absence of disease.

Q. What’s the benefit of metabolic profiling?
A. By studying the changes and concentrations of these small metabolites in the body’s cells, scientists can find unique patterns or profiles that change when the body is fighting a disease, reacting to a drug or responding to other forms of stress. Eventually, comprehensive metabolic profiling could be used by clinicians to personalize medical treatment plans. It’s a relatively new, highly sophisticated research platform that is likely to shorten the time between discovery and clinical application.

Q. How will the partnership work?
A. The Stedman Center will expand its current metabolic profiling expertise to Burnham and Burnham at Lake Nona will establish advanced metabolomic technologies in a newly constructed laboratory.

Q. What will the partnership achieve?
A. Burnham and the Stedman Center will collaborate to develop new metabolic profiling technologies at a rate that would not be possible if the two teams were working independently. The goal is to develop the new entity to be a the leader in the area of metabolic research.

Q. What are some of the recent applications of metabolic profiling?
A. Metabolic profiling has recently been used at Duke’s Stedman Center to identify metabolic biomarkers that increase the ability to predict cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular surgery outcomes.

About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Sanford-Burnham takes a collaborative approach to medical research with major programs in cancer, neurodegeneration and stem cells, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is recognized for its National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and expertise in drug discovery technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a nonprofit, independent institute that employs more than 1,000 scientists and staff in San Diego (La Jolla), Calif., and Orlando (Lake Nona), Fla. For more information, visit us at

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