DSUI Hosts Inaugural Human Metabolism Symposium

An international array of metabolism experts discussed ways to optimize metabolic processes to live better, healthier lives.

The Desai Sethi Urology Institute (DSUI) hosted its first Miami Symposium on Human Metabolism February 18 in Miami Beach, drawing a renowned, international group of speakers to discuss human metabolism’s impact on health and disease.

Nima Sharifi, M.D., scientific director of DSUI, speaks at the metabolism symposium
DSUI Scientific Director Nima Sharifi, M.D., provided opening and closing remarks and presented at the organization’s first symposium on human metabolism.

“Metabolism is related to all aspects of health and disease. We’re only at the very tip of the iceberg in understanding how genetics, diet and environment interact with one another, and how we can optimize those processes to live better lives, healthier lives,” said Nima Sharifi, M.D., scientific director of DSUI and professor of urology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Our goal was to bring together the most sought-after speakers for an interdisciplinary discussion about what we’ve found in studies, as well as how best to move forward collaboratively so that people outside the research setting benefit.”

DSUI Speakers Discuss Their Work

DSUI researchers highlighted a symposium presentation agenda that synopsized a wide range of metabolism research. Dr. Sharifi presented research from his Miller School lab on the effects of stress and hormonal therapy on steroid metabolism.

“At DSUI, our traditional area of focus is on how hormones affect prostate cancer. We’ve also found that things that occur to hormones and the metabolism of the hormones are important not just for prostate cancer but for other aspects of normal functioning and physiology,” Dr. Sharifi said. “This relates to hormones like androgens or testosterone, but also things like stress hormones, some of which are glucocorticoids or cortisol. How the body handles those hormones is important for what they end up doing or not doing in cancer and in health.”

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher Brandon Mahal, M.D.
Brandon Mahal, M.D., a physician-scientist at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, spoke about the impact of Miami’s diverse population on research.

Brandon Mahal, M.D., a Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center physician-scientist and vice chair of research for the Department of Radiology at the Miller School, spoke about the opportunities the diversity of Miami affords medical research. DSUI’s Chad Ritch, M.D., M.B.A., an associate professor of urologic oncology at the Miller School, discussed his work studying the relationship of prostate cancer and genetic ancestry in Jamaican men.

DSUI researcher Chad Ritsch, M.D., speaking at the symposium
Chad Ritch, M.D., M.B.A., spoke about the relationship of prostate cancer and genetic ancestry in Jamaican men at the symposium.

Symposium Reflects Current Thinking on Metabolism

The symposium also featured:

  • Harris Lieberman, Ph.D., of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, discussing his research on metabolic stress in men training for the Special Forces.
  • The Salk Institute for Biological Studies’ Satchidananda Panda, Ph.D., speaking about optimizing metabolism with time-restricted eating.
  • Ralph DeBerardinis, M.D., Ph.D., from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at University of Texas Southwestern, talked about overarching perspectives on metabolism.
  • Washington University’s Gary Patti, Ph.D., concluded the symposium presentations with a discussion of the emerging approaches for the study metabolomics, the comprehensive measurement of all metabolites and low-molecular-weight molecules, in humans.

The symposium presentation topics reflected current trends in metabolism research.

“Hormones that function to handle stress or situations where, let’s say, there is a restriction in eating or starvation are similar to those that are hijacked by the body to push processes like cancer and other diseases,” Dr. Sharifi said. “Hormones that are there for normal physiology are often linked to disease when they don’t function as they should. With intermittent fasting, the general thinking is that compartmentalizing when we eat with prolonged periods of fasting may have health benefits, but there is still a lot we don’t know.”

The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine’s Harris Lieberman, Ph.D., discussing metabolic stress in men training for the Special Forces.

Dr. Sharifi said the success of the symposium, sponsored in part by Agilent and Bruker, already has him anticipating next year’s agenda.

“As DSUI faculty, we are not only focused on how to eradicate diseases but also how to maintain health,” he said. “This symposium unites these two central topics.”

Tags: Cell Metabolism, Desai Sethi Urology Institute, Dr. Brandon Mahal, Dr. Chad Ritch, Dr. Nima Sharifi