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Why is Hopkins the ideal place for a center like CMOR?
RONNETT: Hopkins has a legacy of discoveries in the field of metabolism, from understanding how mitochondria make cellular energy, to studies on insulin, to how metabolic pathways are disrupted in disease. We feel that this dedication to basic discoveries will serve as a beginning to a new generation of collaborative work. Hopkins is a place where there is constant dialog between colleagues about perplexing scientific observations and experiments. No one can resist the lure of a good idea. Before you know it, a collaboration is born, and a discovery is made.
You have been at the forefront of combining neuroscience and metabolism research. What makes you so determined to collaborate with scientists from other disciplines?
RONNETT: As human beings, we define ourselves by placing our lives in the context of the world around us. As scientists, we strive to place our work in the context of global health issues. The health problems that face us today demand that we reach beyond our individual disciplines to craft solutions. Given my broad training, this is a natural outreach for me—and one I enjoy!
You compared starting up the center to opening the door for a pre-Christmas sale at Wal-Mart. Why such a great response?
RONNETT: We now appreciate that metabolism really describes how cells manage their energy resources, which actually determines what the organism can do. Many disease processes disrupt metabolism, and therefore normal functions. Investigators in many disciplines want to explore the metabolic consequences of diseases. CMOR offers advice, networking, and resources for those exploring metabolic questions.
This desire to provide a centralized “storefront” for metabolic questions has been received with many enthusiastic responses and requests for services, even before the Center has opened. We can’t wait to open the doors!
Gabriele Ronnett on developing treatments for obesity: