The medical school professors were awarded the grants as part of a large-scale National Institutes of Health program to study the biology of how physical activity improves health.

The program will include seven clinical trial sites across the country and seven chemical analysis sites. Three awards will go to conduct physical activity studies in animal models. The bioinformatics center will disseminate data and tools to the entire research community, and a coordination center will facilitate activities across the consortium, the release said.

“What is so exciting about this program is that there is no more potent therapeutic intervention than exercise,” Ashley said. “Regular physical activity reduces the risk of almost every disease you can think of — heart disease, lung disease, cancer, neurological disease, GI disease, bone disease, back pain, depression. And yet, we have no idea how exercise achieves this magical effect.”

The work that will be funded by the two grants reflects Stanford Medicine’s focus on precision health, the goals of which are to anticipate and prevent disease in the healthy and precisely diagnose and treat disease in the ill.