Founded in 2009 with a $5.5 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Salk Center for Nutritional Genomics employs a molecular approach to nutrition and its impact on the role of metabolism in diabetes, obesity, cancer, exercise physiology, and lifespan, thereby increasing the understanding of how nutrients affect health. It includes a metabolic core facility and an interdisciplinary fellows program.
The center approaches fundamental aspects of medical physiology and endocrinology from the perspective of the genome. Its members look at metabolic control as a product of the regulated activity of metabolic genes, which undergo dramatic shifts, not only in response to fasting or feeding, but also in aging and disease.
These metabolic shifts provide a critical underpinning in many disease processes, and loss of their control underlies the development of both type 2 diabetes and obesity, as well as other insulin-resistant conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome. In addition, deregulated glucose metabolism is a long-known hallmark of tumor cells, and recent links have connected the pathways controlling glucose and lipid metabolism in tissues such as liver and muscle to the processes deregulated in many human cancers.