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Sunrider Philanthropy at Work: PERC Leads Research to Benefit Children
In December 2016, University of California Irvine pediatric researchers, with the support of a major National Institutes of Health initiative, began to lead an effort to study the molecular changes that occur in the body in response to exercise training in order to advance understanding of how physical activity improves and preserves health in children.

Shlomit Radom-Aizik, executive director of the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center (PERC) at UC Irvine School of Medicine, and Dr. Dan Cooper, PERC’s founding director, will head a clinical center in the Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity in Humans program with the aim of identifying the mechanisms behind exercise’s ability to enhance health and prevent disease.

“For years, we have known that exercise is important for a healthy, developing body, but we haven’t fully understood the biochemical mechanisms responsible for this,” said Cooper, “This program will provide the most detailed information yet that can allow us to ‘prescribe’ the best form and amount of exercise most beneficial to each child.”

Cooper said the results of these analyses will be translated into proposed personalized exercise “prescriptions” to foster optimal well-being.

Sunrider International donated $1.75 million to PERC in January 2016, as part of the company’s robust philanthropic endeavors. This donation has supported the development of PERC and its programs, including its exercise-as-medicine initiative intended to reshape how the next generation of children’s health professionals prescribes and then monitors physical activity beginning in early childhood.

The monetary gift from Sunrider was inspired by Sunrider vice president of business development and UCI School of Medicine alumnus, Dr. Reuben K. Chen. A physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, Dr. Chen is an advocate for giving physicians and educators better information and tools to improve childhood health through exercise:

“I'm really excited to be able to participate in this groundbreaking research that links exercise with precise health benefits, including changes down to the cellular level. Sunrider being able to support research emphasizes our commitment to health and wellness, especially in our children. And the UCI PERC program will be one of the only centers specifically researching the genetic influence of exercise on children and providing those recommendations to the NIH. It's exciting to be a part of something that could change the face of how we view health for generations to come.”

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