GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) and the American Diabetes Association have launched a $1.5 million research award, coinciding with the start of the annual Scientific Sessions diabetes conference in Philadelphia from today through June 12.

The award will fund research grants focused on developing a better understanding of the impact of changes in diet, lifestyle and therapeutics on the microbiome — microbes, people’s genetic data and their environment. Of special interest is the role it plays in metabolism, according to the ADA statement.

The award will be given in the form of research grants exploring the relationship between nutrition, the microbiome and metabolic pathologies, like obesity and diabetes.

It is also looking for research on microbiome composition and function; and the mechanistic pathways through which microbiome composition and function may impact host metabolic function, according to the statement from the ADA

The three-year grants will start in 2013.

The award is intended to add to the knowledge base of metabolic changes that affect both glucose and cardiometabolic risk factors, and provide insight to better understand the connection between diabetes and obesity.

Among the companies that have been developing drugs that touch on some of these issues are NuMe Health, a southern startup co-founded by the chairman of Whole Foods Market that is utilizing bacteria in the gut to help prevent Type 2 diabetes’ onset in prediabetics.

GSK operates its U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park, N.C.