The Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition (CMMN) is a dynamic and interactive research unit of the University of Chicago, offering interdisciplinary doctoral training in the molecular basis of biological processes as they relate to metabolic homeostasis, hormonal status and human disease. The Committee is centered on the graduate program, and thus has its primary focus on the education and training of graduate students. The 40 faculty members, a mixture of basic scientists and clinical researchers, have primary appointments in a variety of departments at the University enabling student thesis projects to comprise of basic, clinical and/or translational research. Research strengths of CMMN include insulin processing/secretion/signaling, diet and microbiome, obesity studies in human and animal models, genetics of diabetes, sleep/circadian rhythms/metabolism, cardiovascular disease, environmental endocrine disruptors and cancer metabolism, among others. The Committee works closely with the federal government sponsored Diabetes Research and Training Center, Digestive Disease Research Core Center, Training Program in Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, and the Clinical Research Center sponsored by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH. There is also a very close affiliation of the CMMN with the Sleep Metabolism and Health Center, the Kovler Diabetes Center and the Sections of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine.
In a series of investigations starting in 1906, Robert R. Bensley demonstrated that the islets of Langerhans were specialized elements of the pancreas. He developed staining methods that distinguished between alpha cells and the beta cells that produce insulin. Bensley's work was fundamental to the discovery of insulin. He later developed techniques to disassemble cells and isolate cellular components by spinning them in a centrifuge, a technique he used in 1934 to isolate mitochondria.