Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are currently the leading cause of death in the world. In the new Center for Exercise, Metabolic diseases and Cancer (CEMC2016), we study the basic mechanisms that underlie the development of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and cancer, which together account for about 40% of total deaths in Chile. To this end, CEMC2016 includes 4 senior researchers and 10 younger researchers. Dr. Andrew Quest, Dr. Enrique Jaimovich, Dr. Cecilia Hidalgo and Dr. Sergio Lavandero, worked together (2002-2012) as part of the Center for Molecular Cell Studies (CEMC) in studying cellular signaling events. More recently, they have collaborated in the framework of the NEMESIS (Network for Metabolic Stress Signaling) project that ended in 2015. All the researchers involved (Dr. Lisette Leyton, Sergio Núñez, Mariana Cifuentes, Paola Llanos, Genaro Barrientos, Alejandra Espinosa, Mariana Casas, Mario Chiong, Valentina Parra and Mariane Cifuentes have previously worked with these IPs in the framework of CEMC and NEMESIS and have contributed in the period 2013 – 2016 to an extraordinary number of publications (total 137 / ISI average: 4.3), with an important overlap in the areas of interest (57 joint publications) representing the basis of this highly interdisciplinary CEMC2 Center.


Conceptually this project is a continuation of the CEMC and NEMESIS An important new aspect of “CEMC2016” is that studies address how cells respond to different types of “metabolic stress”, and how these changes affect the development of chronic diseases. Consequently, the scientific objectives of this Center investigate how “stress signals” (including nutrient deprivation, aging and obesity) affect cancer cells, skeletal muscle cells and adipocytes / macrophages to generate metabolic stress signaling (eg through the formation of reactive oxygen species) and contribute to the development of diseases. To solve these questions, groups in the center analyze four specific scientific objectives related to:

  1. Changes in the metabolism of tumor cells in conditions of nutrient and / or oxygen deprivation;
  2. Changes in autophagy and interorganelar communication indiuced by metabolic stress signaling;
  3. Cellular mechanisms of loss of muscle mass;
  4. stress signaling in models of obesity and diabetes.

Responses to these goals will yield new insights to cancer, muscle disorders and obesity / diabetes. To this end, standard in vitro cell analysis approaches will be combined with the use of appropriate animal models to corroborate these ideas in vivo. In addition, CEMC2016 has access to samples and epidemiological data from a population study called MAUCO (cohort of the Maule region) as part of the ACCDiS project (advanced center for chronic diseases), involving some of the researchers from CEMC and NEMESIS.

National and international networks:

CEMC2016 is supported by exceptional international collaborators (the most relevant are specified in the project) and national (in attached centers of excellence) who will participate in the training of advanced human resources receiving in their laboratories postdoctoral researchers and PhD students, as well as through participation in courses, conferences and symposia organized by CEMC2016.

Advanced Human Capital Formation:

In the period 2013-2016, PIs and associated CEMC2016 researchers participated in the new Center, which includes 28 undergraduate students (8 joint), 11 masters students (1 joint), 35 PhD students (8 joint) and 15 postdoctoral fellows (8 joint). The PIs and associate researchers also participated in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Most notable are the 5 transversal postgraduate courses organized for students of different doctoral programs of the University of Chile. Thanks to these activities, CEMC2016 will follow the tradition established by CEMC and will become a national reference center for the training of advanced human resources with the participation of a considerable number of younger scientists.


The impact on society of sound basic science and the training of advanced human resources is very limited unless there are mechanisms to ensure dissemination. To promote the general visibility of CEMC2016, all labs will be connected through a common web page. A series of workshops will be organized with oncologists, cardiologists, nutritionists, diabetologists and kinesiologists to promote interaction between basic and clinical scientists. To deliver information related to nutrition to the general public, a web page with information on the nutritional value of various foods and supplements will be made available to the general public over the internet. High school students and teachers will also benefit from special annual programs. All activities developed at CEMC2016 will be disseminated to the press and local public health services by a professional agency. In summary, CEMC2016 will provide a broader understanding of important metabolic diseases in Chile by developing: (a) a research program of excellence involving collaboration at the national and international level; B) a training program for undergraduate, masters, doctoral and post-doctoral students; (C) an interdisciplinary research environment within a well-developed network of national and international laboratories that promotes the development of younger associated researchers; and d) an extension program that seeks to connect basic scientists with society. Therefore, although ambitious in nature, the previous history of this group of PIs and associated researchers together with its collaborators guarantees the success of the CEMC2016 Center.

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