Seminal Discoveries in Metabolism Earn Biochemist Jared Rutter, Ph.D., HHMI Investigator Appointment

May 20, 2015 – A University of Utah biochemist whose research has significantly expanded the understanding of human metabolism–chemical processes that synthesize and break down the building blocks of cells–and its relation to disease has received a highly prized honor in the world of science: selection as an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

HHMI announced today that Jared Rutter, Ph.D., U of U professor of biochemistry and Dee Glen and Ida Smith Endowed Chair for Cancer Research, is among 26 of the nation’s top biomedical researchers from 19 institutions nationwide selected as investigators this year. The initiative represents an investment in biomedical research of $153 million over the next five years.

Scientific discovery requires original thinking and creativity, and each of the investigators selected has demonstrated those qualities, according to HHMI President Robert Tijan. “One of the most important things we can do at HHMI is to continue to support and encourage the best discovery research,” Tijan said in an Institute news release. “We don’t know this for certain, but the ideas that emerge from these labs might one day change the world, and it’s our privilege to help make that happen.”

Rutter focuses his research on metabolism and mitochondria, self-contained units in cells that have crucial roles in metabolism. Metabolic processes break down carbohydrates and fatty acids in order to fuel production of ATP by mitochondria. ATP is the main source of energy for cells and is essential for humans and other animals to live.

“I am very grateful to all of the people that have contributed to making this happen.  I have been fortunate to have fantastic co-workers in my laboratory, fantastic colleagues in the Department of Biochemistry, in the Diabetes and Metabolism Center and throughout the University,” Rutter says. “Of course, I’m also very grateful to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for putting their trust in me to do something meaningful with this award.  I am committed to make that happen.”

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