Metabolism, Nutrition, and Physical Development Research Affinity Group

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Nutrition and metabolism disorders have a significant impact on most patient populations at Children’s Hospital, with failure-to-thrive, obesity, and bone deficits presenting common complications in many chronic conditions. Looking beyond pediatric patient populations, it is well established that many of the major chronic diseases of adulthood are nutrition-related and have antecedents in childhood. Disease-related and behavioral factors such as malabsorption, inflammation, and reduced physical activity have a profound effect on nutrient metabolism, growth, body composition, and health and disease outcomes.

The Metabolism, Nutrition and Physical Development Affinity Group at Children’s Hospital, established in 2007, is committed to addressing and mitigating these critical health issues though a multidisciplinary research approach into the causes and consequences of metabolic and nutritional disorders of childhood and the development of effective strategies for disease prevention and treatment.

Research projects span a wide range of disciplines, including nutrition, metabolism, epidemiology, gastroenterology, hepatology, endocrinology, psychiatry, cardiology, hematology, nephrology, rheumatology, pulmonology, neurology, nursing, child development and neonatology. Together, experts in these fields explore ways to prevent obesity- and nutrition-related diseases in adulthood that have their origins in infancy and childhood. They study the effects of nutrition, inflammation, altered metabolism and obesity on growth and body composition, skeletal development, bone density, the attainment of peak bone mass, and risk factors that may contribute to fractures.

In addition, researchers in the Metabolism, Nutrition and Physical Development Affinity Group investigate biliary atresia and bile duct development through the Fred and Suzanne Biesecker Center for Pediatric Liver Disease at Children’s Hospital. Uniting experts across hospital disciplines, such as gastroenterology, human genetics, microbiology and pathology, affinity group members partner with the adult liver program at the University of Pennsylvania.

This Research Affinity Group supports two annual pilot project grants for studies that are likely to lead to future funding, and that foster collaboration among group members. Membership is open to anyone interested in this area of scientific investigation.