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xercise is key to building healthy young bodies, UC Irvine's Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center has found.

UC Irvine moves to standardize childhood exercise training for physicians and educators, thanks to a $1.75-million gift inspired by UC Irvine School of Medicine alumnus.

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UC Irvine Pediatric Exercise Research Center

Children with disabilities of the muscle and nerves are not able to engage in normal physical activity and exercise.

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 happy little men

Welcome to the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center(PERC)

Exercise as medicine—powerful, personalized treatment for today’s children.

We all agree that exercise is good for kids. Yet, we know surprisingly little about why it works or how it can be prescribed to optimize growth and prevent adult diseases.

What kind of exercise is most effective for a child with asthma, a disability, injury or a serious illness? How much exercise is appropriate—and how often?

At the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center (PERC), scientists believe the answers exist at the most fundamental level of human biology—the gene—and how it’s expressed. In fact, PERC is one of the few centers in the nation attempting to make this connection between exercise and the epigenome (the intermediary between genes and the environment causing changes in how genes express themselves). Simply put, we’re gaining new knowledge about the human body’s response to exercise at the cellular level.

Our nationally renowned clinicians, exercise physiologists and researchers are driven to learn what type of exercise, how much and for how long, will produce the most predictable, effective outcomes to improve childhood health.


Message from the Founder 

We are at a true crisis point in child health in our country and across the globe. Otherwise healthy children are at risk for lifetime illness like heart disease and stroke simply because of a sedentary lifestyle. And children with serious diseases, even life- threatening diseases like leukemia or sickle cell anemia, are not getting the lifelong health benefits of appropriate exercise.

The knowledge gap between what we know and what we need to know is huge. Pediatric science has not focused research efforts on gaining fundamental information about how something as seemingly simple as exercise can advance health. The time to transform, to change, to innovate is now. PERC can lead the nation in this effort.

Dan M Cooper, MD
Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical and Translational Science
Director, UCI Institute for Clinical and Translational Science
Principal Investigator, UCI Clinical Translational Science Award
Professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Engineering



Message from the Director

Thank you for your interest in PERC and the cutting-edge research we are doing to benefit children today and tomorrow.

Emerging epidemics of pediatric obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome are ominous consequences of physical inactivity in many children. Others, who live with conditions such as asthma, spina bifida and acute lymphocytic leukemia, cope with the effects of inactivity because they don’t know how to move safely.

Fortunately, the knowledge we’re gaining at PERC is moving exercise science in the direction of personal “prescriptions” for physical activities. These antidotes to ill health are tailored to individual profiles, promoting childhood growth and development, and laying the foundation for better health over a lifetime.    

On a national scope, our center is the host for a new, privately funded project to develop innovative approaches to embed “exercise-is-medicine” concepts in child health by reaching out to primary care pediatricians, family physicians, families, and community school teachers and personnel. 

It’s exciting to see children improve their health and their outlook on life as a result of exercise and physical activity research. We are very proud of the positive impact this work is having on youth in the local community and beyond. We invite you to join our journey of discovery as a collaborator, donor or research participant.

Shlomit Radom-Aizik, PhD
Executive Director PERC