It is well-known that exercise is good for you, but how exactly does physical activity improve the function of different tissues and organs in the body? What molecules underlie how physical activity is translated into better health? The National Institutes of Health’s Common Fund has launched a program that aims to catalogue extensively the biological molecules that are affected by physical activity in people, identify some of the key molecules that underlie the systemic effects of physical activity, and characterize the functions of these key molecules.

This program, Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans, is the largest targeted NIH investment of funds into the mechanisms of how physical activity improves health and prevents disease. Through the program, investigators at research institutions across the United States will receive about $170 million over five years, pending availability of funds.

A human cohort study (and a parallel animal study) will collect samples pre- and post-exercise and will then support genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, metabolomics, and proteomic analyses of the samples. The transcriptomic analysis will include profiling of extracellular RNAs. Data integration should allow molecular signatures of physical activity to be defined and correlated with benefit when possible. Mechanistic studies in animals will also be supported.

For more information, visit http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2015/nih-11.htm.

A Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is now available for this program. See http://commonfund.nih.gov/MolecularTransducers.

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