Metabolism Program

Metabolism is the integration of all chemical reactions in our body. Metabolic processes control how we use or store energy and nutrients from food, and how we create, modify, or degrade biologically active small molecules. Inherited or acquired defects in metabolism can lead directly to disease — ranging from rare, lethal genetic disorders to major public health problems such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The goal of the Broad Metabolism Program (BMP) is to pioneer new methods to systematically investigate metabolism and exploit the resulting discoveries to decipher the metabolic basis of human disease, leading to better treatments or interventions. BMP is a highly collaborative network with close connections to the Broad’s Metabolite Profiling Platform, as well as the Genomics Platform, the Proteomics Platform, and the Center for the Development of Therapeutics. Many BMP investigators are based at relevant clinical units in affiliated hospitals.

Major areas of focus include:

Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and their complications

These conditions represent enormous immediate and future threats to public health; current treatments and preventive measures are inadequate to meet this global challenge. Members of BMP investigate the causes and consequences of obesity and type 2 diabetes, employing genetics, genomics, epigenetics, metabolite profiling, cell biology, and physiological and perturbation studies in cells, model organisms, and humans. The goal is to integrate insights from these diverse approaches to propel the development of safer and more effective therapies.

Rare metabolic diseases

BMP scientists harness several technologies, including next-generation sequencing and metabolic profiling, to define the genetic and metabolic basis of rare diseases, with a focus on mitochondrial illness. These scientists are identifying new targets and therapeutic strategies for these devastating disorders.

Metabolic circuitry

A major challenge in fundamental biology is to comprehensively decipher metabolic pathways and understand their regulatory and homeostatic mechanisms. BMP scientists work with cells, animal models, and human samples and systematically apply powerful tools — including genome editing, metabolic profiling, and computational biology — to achieve these goals.