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Friday, December 3, 2021

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UH earns grant for metabolism sensors


The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation recently awarded the University and the Methodist Hospital a three-year grant of $623,425 to conduct research on biosensors to monitor metabolism and to detect unhealthy conditions earlier.

Led by UH physics professor John Miller, the research is targeting metabolic syndrome – a complication stemming in obese individuals that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

"There is a critical public need to develop technologies that can provide early diagnosis of metabolic syndrome and enable cost-effective treatment, as well as to measure metabolic activity and other components of energy balance in obese patients," Miller said in a release.

Miller is also the director of the High-Temperature Superconducting Device Applications and Nano-Biophysics Laboratory in the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH and will conduct his investigation along with research partner Methodist Hospital.

Miller’s research will focus on developing new sensors to prevent health complications by diagnosing metabolic conditions earlier. The goal is to develop a portable device to track metabolic rates before a harmful condition can advance and thus prevent individuals from the high cost of treatment.

"Although drug treatments for metabolic syndrome exist, the cost of drugs to treat all obese individuals is prohibitive," Miller said in a release.

Biology and biochemistry professor William Widger is also contributing to the research along with endocrinologists Dale Hamilton and Richard Robbins of the Department of Medicine from Methodist Hospital.

Miller’s other current research with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH also includes developing medical instruments to aid in the earlier detection of metabolic syndrome as well as insulin resistance – a condition that can develop into diabetes in an individual over time when excess sugar is stored in blood and is not broken down by insulin, which is produced in the pancreas.


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