Mount Sinai Researchers Receive $15.5 Million Grant to Map Molecular Changes That Occur During Physical Activity

 – December 15, 2016 /Press Release/  –– 

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to serve as chemical analysis site for The Molecular Physical Activity Consortium

Two researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have been awarded $15.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund to help develop a comprehensive map of the molecular changes that occur in response to physical activity. The research could improve our understanding of how physical activity leads to better health.

The grant to Stuart C. Sealfon, MD, Sara B. and Seth M. Glickenhaus Professor of Neurology, Director of the Center for Advanced Research on Diagnostic Assays, and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Neurology, and Martin J. Walsh, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacological Sciences, Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Pediatrics, announced today, is part of the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium (MoTrPAC), the largest targeted NIH investment of funds into the mechanisms of how physical activity improves health and prevents disease. Through this program, 19 grants will support researchers at 25 universities and research centers across the country to collect samples from people of different races, ethnic groups, sexes, ages, and fitness levels. The samples will be analyzed to uncover how physical activity changes the chemical molecules in our bodies, which could lead to people engaging in more targeted and optimized types of activity. The awards total $170 million through fiscal year 2022.

“While we know that physical activity is good for us in many ways, we know very little about the mechanisms through which physical activity affects health and disease,” says Dr. Sealfon. “We’re proud to be part of a much-needed coordinated effort to assemble a comprehensive map of the molecular transducers – the proteins, peptides, circulating nucleic acids, lipids, hormones, and other molecules – that are likely responsible for the health effects of physical activity.”

Under the leadership of Drs. Sealfon and Walsh, a research team from Mount Sinai will work as part of the MoTrPAC to perform preliminary characterization of the range of molecular transducers (the ‘molecular map’) that underlie the effects of physical activity in humans. Specifically, Mount Sinai researchers will analyze genetics, gene modification, and gene expression in samples obtained from other consortium members from humans and animal models that are exposed to physical activity.

The information conducted from all research sites will be stored in a publicly accessible database that scientists can use to study almost every organ and tissue in the body. Ultimately, the research findings may help lead to new drug targets for many diseases that are affected by physical activity and will help define optimal physical activity recommendations for individuals with particular health needs and at various stages of life.

“To fully understand and subsequently transform clinical medicine’s use of physical activity for health management, a large-scale effort like this is imperative,” says Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Receiving this award is a testament to the investment we have made in genomics research, which has positioned us to be able to contribute to this important effort. We appreciate the NIH recognition of our efforts and are excited to be part of this groundbreaking endeavor.”

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the “Honor Roll” of best hospitals in America, ranked No. 15 nationally in the 2016-2017 “Best Hospitals” issue of U.S. News & World Report.  The Mount Sinai Hospital is also ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Geriatrics, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Ear, Nose & Throat, and is in the top 50 in four other specialties. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 10 nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report in "Best Children's Hospitals."

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