The Maine Medical Center Research Institute has been awarded a five-year, $11 million Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence grant by the National Institutes of Health.

The funding will be used to establish a research center to model the basis of human metabolic diseases, the institute said Wednesday in a release. The program includes partnerships among Maine Med, University of Maine, University of New England and Brown University.

The award comes just seven weeks after the NIH announced a separate, $20 million award to Maine Med and two partnering institutions to establish the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network. The two new programs at Maine Med will expand the research institute’s capacity to translate basic laboratory research discoveries into clinical care for patients, according to the release.

Researchers at Maine Med have been studying how metabolically active tissues, including fat, bone and the brain, use energy and control metabolism in the body. The $11 million grant will provide funding to four investigators to conduct research. The grant also will support the expansion of technology, including advanced protein and lipid analysis and bone measurements.

As the scientists obtain independent grant funding, additional projects will be added to the program, providing a process to recruit new research talent into Maine, the release said. The overall goal of the program is to reduce obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes – all metabolic diseases common in Maine – by understanding pathways that lead to those disorders.

The research will contribute to the development of cures for metabolic diseases and obesity, according to Maine Med. In 2015, the CDC listed Maine as having an obesity rate of 30 percent, highest in New England.

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