The Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research
Energy homeostasis, i.e. the balance between caloric intake and energy expenditure, has to be controlled in a tight range to ensure metabolic homeostasis, health and survival of an organism. Throughout evolution, a sophisticated neuronal network has developed that integrates information from the periphery of the organism about the energy availability of the body. This network enables the body to adapt a wide range of behavioural and autonomic responses to precisely control food intake, energy expenditure and substrate flux across different peripheral organs.
Chronic and even small deviations in this homeostatic regulatory network can result in either massive weight loss or weight gain, as well as associated metabolic disturbances. Worrisomely, over the last decades, the incidence of increased body weight, i.e. obesity, has reached epidemic proportions with more than 30% of the population of industrialized countries being overtly obese and close to 10% developing obesity-associated type 2 diabetes mellitus. Of note is that altered energy homeostasis and obesity not only represent a major risk factor for the development of T2D, but also for cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders and certain types of cancers.
How research goals will be achieved
The overarching research goal of the MPI for Metabolism Research is thus to define the physiological regulatory principles in energy and glucose homeostasis as well as the genetic factors and environmental cues that alter energy and glucose homeostasis in disease. By achieving this goal, we aim to ultimately identify novel therapeutic targets as a first step to developing new treatments for obesity and obesity-associated diseases. To this end, researchers of the Institute employ state-of-the-art methodologies and technologies to pursue translational research approaches ranging from studies on unravelling the underlying molecular mechanisms in cultured cells to defining regulatory mechanisms in model organisms. Finally, hypotheses derived from these approaches are tested and validated through functional imaging in control human subjects as well as patients suffering from obesity and obesity-associated diseases.
Established research collaborations
Experimental work at the Institute is carried out in an interdisciplinary, highly interactive setting and is supported by several local core facilities. The Institute is located in the heart of the University of Cologne Biomedical Research Campus. Our immediate neighbours and scientific partners are the Natural Sciences and Medical Faculties of the University of Cologne as well as the Cologne Cluster of Excellence for Cellular Stress Responses in Ageing-Associated Diseases (CECAD), the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, as well as the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behaviour in Bonn.