Understanding Chronic Metabolic Diseases

The increased global incidence of chronic metabolic diseases—including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular and liver diseases—has become one of the greatest global health threats of the 21st century. To tackle this crisis, Murat Ülker, a leading entrepreneur in Istanbul, contributed $24 million to the Harvard Chan School in 2014 on behalf of the Ülker family to establish the Sabri Ülker Center for Nutrient, Genetic, and Metabolic Research. The gift supports the work of Gökhan S. Hotamışligil, the J.S. Simmons Professor of Genetics and Metabolism, chair of the Department of Molecular Metabolism, and director of the center.

“The Sabri Ülker Center will address this unsustainable trend by developing new strategies and approaches to prevent and treat such debilitating disorders,” says Ali Ülker, grandson of the late Sabri Ülker, in whose honor the center is named. “We hope this contribution to science will benefit humanity greatly, and we have every confidence in Professor Hotamışligil’s research and leadership.”

The gift has been transformational. “Until now, the majority of our research operations were run via a very challenging model of short-term research grant funding supporting long-term scientific aspirations,” says Hotamışligil. “But with this generosity, we can look further into the future, do risky things, undertake outside-the-box projects, and do so in an uninterrupted manner. We hope that one day these discoveries will inform mechanism-driven preventive and therapeutic efforts that will improve human health, save people’s lives, and increase people’s health span, not just their life span.”