Professor Lora Heisler
Chair in Human Nutrition
Professor Heisler investigates brain circuits regulating energy homeostasis in an effort to identify new targets amenable to obesity and type 2 diabetes medications. Professor Heisler received her PhD from Tufts University, USA in 1997 and held postdoctoral positions at the University of California, San Francisco USA from 1997-99 and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School (HMS) USA from 1999-2001. In 2001, Professor Heisler was promoted to Instructor and set up her laboratory at HMS. She then relocated her group to the University of Cambridge, UK in 2004 where they worked until 2013. In 2013, the Heisler group moved to the Rowett Institute to take advantage of the Institute’s strengths in obesity research, ranging from molecules to man.
The MOOMIN (Mechanisms Of Obesity, Metabolism, Insulin Sensitivity and Nutrition) Lab welcomes new PhD student Dhamyaa Al-Halboosi!
Prizes and Awards
Professor Heisler was the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award (OSAA) from the American Diabetes Association. Professor Heisler received the OSAA prize for her research identifying a new type of medication to improve type 2 diabetes. This prestigious award recognises research in diabetes that demonstrates particular independence of thought and originality. Her career scientific contributions include seminal discoveries in the brain control of appetite and blood sugar that demonstrate her innovation.
Professor Heisler commented: “Diabetes is such a widespread problem and it is crucial that we as scientists continue to research this disease in order to find new ways to combat it. It is extremely humbling to be recognised for our contribution to diabetes research. I work alongside many talented colleagues."
Mechanisms Of Obesity, Metabolism, Insulin Senstivity and Nutrition
The brain represents the master coordinator of appetite and energy expenditure, employing interwoven neurological circuits to continually appraise and respond to changes in energy state.
Our research aims to discover and characterise these brain circuits using cutting edge technology with the objective of locating points within the pathway that are amenable to manipulation with manmade (drug) or natural (hormone) substances.
We also examine the impact of diet and body weight on circuit rewiring and mechanisms restore appropriate system connectivity and activity.
The ultimate aim of our research is to identify new treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Cells in the brain that impact appetite Our work identifying a new treatment
for type 2 diabetes is on the journal cover
Funding and Grants
Medical Research Scotland
Frontiers of Biomedical Science - SM3002
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Obesity medication lorcaserin activates brainstem GLP-1 neurons to reduce food intake and augments GLP-1 receptor agonist induced appetite suppressionMolecular Metabolism, vol. 68, 101665Contributions to Journals: Articles
5-HT recruits distinct neurocircuits to inhibit hunger-driven and non-hunger-driven feedingMolecular Psychiatry, vol. 26 , no. 12, pp. 7211–7224Contributions to Journals: Articles
Role of serotonin in body weight, insulin secretion and glycaemic controlJournal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 33, no. 4, e12960Contributions to Journals: Review articles
Pharmacological evidence for transactivation within melatonin MT2 and serotonin 5‐HT2C receptor heteromers in mouse brainThe FASEB Journal, vol. 35, no. 1, e21161Contributions to Journals: Articles
Developmental programming of appetite and growth in male rats increases hypothalamic serotonin (5-HT)5A receptor expression and sensitivityInternational Journal of Obesity, vol. 44, pp. 1946-1957Contributions to Journals: Articles
Neurochemical characterization of brainstem Pro-opiomelanocortin cellsEndocrinology, vol. 161, no. 4, pp. 1-13Contributions to Journals: Articles
Molecular reductions in glucokinase activity increase counter-regulatory responses to hypoglycemia in mice and humans with diabetesMolecular Metabolism, vol. 17, pp. 17-27Contributions to Journals: Articles
Nucleus of the Solitary Tract Serotonin 5-HT2C Receptors Modulate Food IntakeCell Metabolism, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 619-630.e5Contributions to Journals: Articles
Specific Subpopulations of Hypothalamic Leptin Receptor-Expressing Neurons Mediate the Effects of Early Developmental Leptin Receptor Deletion on Energy BalanceMolecular Metabolism, vol. 14, pp. 130-138Contributions to Journals: Articles
Bace1-dependent amyloid processing regulates hypothalamic leptin sensitivity in obese miceScientific Reports, vol. 8, 55Contributions to Journals: Articles
An appetite for life: brain regulation of hunger and satietyCurrent Opinion in Pharmacology, vol. 37, pp. 100-106Contributions to Journals: Review articles
Lorcaserin improves glycemic control via a melanocortin neurocircuitMolecular Metabolism, vol. 6, no. 10, pp. 1092-1102Contributions to Journals: Articles
Activation of Ventral Tegmental Area 5-HT2C Receptors Reduces Incentive MotivationNeuropsychopharmacology, vol. 42, no. 7, pp. 1511-1521Contributions to Journals: Articles
Activation of Serotonin 2C Receptors in Dopamine Neurons Inhibits Binge-like Eating in MiceBiological Psychiatry, vol. 81, no. 9, pp. 737-747Contributions to Journals: Articles
Increased alternate splicing of Htr2c in a mouse model for Prader-Willi syndrome leads disruption of 5HT2C receptor mediated appetiteMolecular brain, vol. 9, no. 1, 95Contributions to Journals: Articles
Intracerebroventricular Catalase Reduces Hepatic Insulin Sensitivity and Increases Responses to Hypoglycemia in RatsEndocrinology, vol. 157, no. 12, pp. 4669–4676Contributions to Journals: Articles
Serotonin engages an anxiety and fear-promoting circuit in the extended amygdalaNature, vol. 537, pp. 97-101Contributions to Journals: Articles
Chronic Activation of γ2 AMPK Induces Obesity and Reduces β Cell FunctionCell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 821-836Contributions to Journals: Articles
5-HT2Aand 5-HT2C receptors as hypothalamic targets of developmental programming in male ratsDevelopment, vol. 143, no. 8, pp. 401-412Contributions to Journals: Articles
5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors as hypothalamic targets of developmental programming in male ratsDisease Models & Mechanisms, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 401-412Contributions to Journals: Articles
Appetite controlled by a cholecystokinin nucleus of the solitary tract to hypothalamus neurocircuiteLife, vol. 5, 12225Contributions to Journals: Articles
Sex difference in physical activity, energy expenditure and obesity driven by a subpopulation of hypothalamic POMC neuronsMolecular Metabolism, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 245-252Contributions to Journals: Articles
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha plays a crucial role in behavioral repetition and cognitive flexibility in miceMolecular Metabolism, vol. 4, no. 7, pp. 528-536Contributions to Journals: Articles
5-Hydroxytryptamine Medications for the Treatment of ObesityJournal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 389-398Contributions to Journals: Literature Reviews
A Parabrachial-Hypothalamic Cholecystokinin Neurocircuit Controls Counterregulatory Responses to HypoglycemiaCell Metabolism, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 1030-1037Contributions to Journals: Articles
Leptin-inhibited PBN neurons enhance responses to hypoglycemia in negative energy balanceNature Neuroscience, vol. 17, pp. 1744-1750Contributions to Journals: Articles
5-HT obesity medication efficacy via POMC activation is maintained during agingEndocrinology, vol. 155, no. 10, pp. 3732–3738Contributions to Journals: Articles
Distribution of cells responsive to 5-HT6 receptor antagonist-induced hypophagiaBehavioural Brain Research, vol. 266, pp. 201-206Contributions to Journals: Articles
Developmental Programming Mediated by Complementary Roles of Imprinted Grb10 in Mother and PupPLoS Biology, vol. 12, no. 2, 1001799Contributions to Journals: Articles
Profiling of glucose-sensing neurons reveals that ghrh neurons are activated by hypoglycemiaCell Metabolism, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 596-607Contributions to Journals: Articles
5-HT2C receptor agonist anorectic efficacy potentiated by 5-HT1B receptor agonist coapplication: an effect mediated via increased proportion of pro-opiomelanocortin neurons activatedJournal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 23, pp. 9800-9804Contributions to Journals: Articles
Neuroanatomical characterisation of the expression of the lipodystrophy and motor-neuropathy gene Bscl2 in adult mouse brainPloS ONE, vol. 7, no. 9, e45790Contributions to Journals: Articles
Brain glucose sensors play a significant role in the regulation of pancreatic glucose-stimulated insulin secretionDiabetes, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 321-328Contributions to Journals: Articles
Setting the tone: reactive oxygen species and the control of appetitive melanocortin meuronsCell Metabolism, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 573-574Contributions to Journals: Editorials
Neuropeptide Y cells represent a distinct glucose-sensing population in the lateral hypothalamusEndocrinology, vol. 152, no. 11, pp. 4046-4052Contributions to Journals: Articles
Leptin does not directly affect CNS serotonin neurons to influence appetiteCell Metabolism, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 584-591Contributions to Journals: Articles
Identification of adropin as a secreted factor linking dietary macronutrient intake with energy homeostasis and lipid metabolismCell Metabolism, vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 468-481Contributions to Journals: Articles
5-HT2CRs expressed by pro-opiomelanocortin neurons regulate energy homeostasisNeuron, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 582-589Contributions to Journals: Articles
Serotonin 5-HT2C receptor agonist promotes hypophagia via downstream activation of melanocortin 4 receptorsEndocrinology, vol. 149, no. 3, pp. 1323-1328Contributions to Journals: Articles
Serotonin 2C receptor agonists improve type 2 diabetes via melanocortin-4 receptor signaling pathwaysCell Metabolism, vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 398-405Contributions to Journals: Articles
Self-Defeating Personality Disorder ReconsideredJournal of Personality Disorders, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 64-71Contributions to Journals: Articles
Reduction of Fat and Protein Intakes But Not Carbohydrate Intake Following Acute and Chronic Fluoxetine in Female RatsPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 377-385Contributions to Journals: Articles
Knockout Corner: Neurobehavioural consequences of a serotonin 5-HT2C receptor gene mutationInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 67-69Contributions to Journals: Articles
Prior Exposure to Palatable Solutions Enhances the Effects of Naltrexone on Food Intake in RatsPharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 57, no. 1-2, pp. 377-381Contributions to Journals: Articles