Bioengineer studying stem cell diets to make better heart …

Posted: February 12, 2014 at 10:41 pm

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Diabetes Week -- He is one of eight UC San Diego researchers to receive a combined total of $8.165 million in funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in a new round of Basic Biology awards announced Jan. 29. Metallo's share is $1.124 million over three years. The awards were made by CIRM's Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (see also Stem Cells).

Heart cells are unique in that they must expend a tremendous amount of energy in order for the heart to function properly, generating the mechanical forces necessary to pump blood through the body, Metallo said. Therefore, it is important that heart cells generated from stem cells in the lab eat the right foods. His research is focused on understanding cell metabolism - how cells convert carbohydrates, fat, and protein into fuel - and how disruptions in these processes contribute to diseases such as cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Metallo joined the Jacobs School of Engineering in 2011 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship on the metabolism of cancer cells at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research there changed our understanding of how cells convert carbohydrates and protein (amino acids) to fat, a process which was thought to have been settled science for more than 50 years. The study, which was published January 2012, in the journal Nature, means doctors could have new targets for therapeutic drugs designed to stop cancer cell growth. In recognition of this work, Metallo was named the Rita Schaffer Young Investigator in 2012, which is awarded each year by the Biomedical Engineering Society to stimulate the research career of a young bioengineer. Last year, he was one of 15 young investigators in the United States selected to be a 2013 Searle Scholar.

The eight CIRM Basic Biology Awards for UC San Diego faculty were:

Maike Sander, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, was awarded $1.161 million

Christian Metallo, Bioengineering, Jacobs School of Engineering, awarded $1,124 million

Cornelis Murre, Biological Sciences, awarded $1.161 million

Wei Wang, Chemistry and Biochemistry, awarded $1.161 million

David Cheresh, School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, awarded $1.161 million

Miles Wilkinson, School of Medicine, Department of Reproductive Medicine, awarded $619,200

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Bioengineer studying stem cell diets to make better heart ...

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