Metabolic Disease

Martin Hewison, PhD

Martin Hewison, PhD, analyzes vitamin D metabolism in human tissues and diseases using high-performance liquid chromatography equipment.

Understanding Metabolic Diseases

Metabolic diseases go by many names, and none of them are welcome in anyone’s life: arthritis, asthma, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease. These are just a few metabolic diseases with one thing in common: All turn the human body into its own worst enemy, with life-limiting—often painful—consequences.

If we understand the why and the how, we can overcome these painful disorders. Today, we’re at work identifying risk factors and improving diagnostics, developing new drugs and targeted therapies, and finding genetic markers. While metabolic diseases are all about the body out of tune and out of rhythm with itself, meaningful, effective treatments promise to restore harmony and health.

Mark Pimentel, MD

Mark Pimentel, MD, is Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program and Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai.

Cedars-Sinai has already set many milestones in the treatment of metabolic illnesses, including:

  • Identifying a genetic marker for inflammatory bowel disease that indicates whether the disease will be aggressive or benign
  • Discovering a new protein that regulates intestinal inflammation in Crohn’s disease
  • Developing new drugs for the treatment of pituitary tumors

Your support will enable Cedars-Sinai to advance lifesaving research that will identify and treat metabolic diseases:

  • Researching genes that put individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes
  • Creating a simple blood test for inflammatory bowel disease to help doctors properly diagnose and treat patients
  • Identifying gene therapies to reduce or block inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Discovering how hormones act at the cellular level to control body metabolism
Emma Sweaza

Embracing Life Again

At age 6, Emma Sweaza became one of approximately 200,000 children in the U.S. diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, an umbrella term for chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis which cause painful inflammation in the digestive tract. Emma’s condition went from bad to worse, and within a short time, she was missing school, afraid to leave home for fear of having an intestinal flare up.

“I had to take a bunch of medicine—sometimes more than 20 pills a day—and have my blood drawn all the time,” says Emma, today 11 years old. “My parents took me to several pediatric gastroenterologists, but no one was able to make me feel better.”

That was until she met Marla Dubinsky, MD, Director of the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program at Cedars-Sinai, who treated her with new medications, dietary changes, and ultimately, surgery. The Pediatric IBD Program at Cedars-Sinai provides a full range of patient-centered care that includes nutritional and psychosocial programs designed for young patients. Thanks to the surgery, Emma was able to go back to school and start living a normal life again.

The causes of IBD are still unknown, but Dr. Dubinsky and her team are evaluating genetic and immune factors leading to disease development in children, medication safety, and promising new treatments.

“The Pediatric IBD Program at Cedars-Sinai doesn’t just treat my illness; they also make sure that I am eating and growing well, that I have good self-esteem, and that I don’t get too sad while dealing with a chronic illness.”

—Emma Sweaza

Current priorities include:

Other funding priorities:

  • State-of-the-art operating rooms
  • Nursing education
  • Surgical technology fund
  • Research program grants