Professor Lora Heisler

Professor Lora Heisler
Professor Lora Heisler

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!

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Obesity and Food Choice Theme Lead

External Memberships

Deputy Editor, Molecular Metabolism

SAB, Keysone Symposia

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."



Research Overview

Moomin Lab

Mechanisms Of Obesity, Metabolism, Insulin Senstivity and Nutrition


Prof Lora HeislerThe 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

Cells in the brain that impact appetite Our work identifying a new treatment
for type 2 diabetes is on the journal cover



Current Research

Research team

Funding and Grants


Diabetes UK

Wellcome Trust

Medical Research Scotland


Teaching Responsibilities

Frontiers of Biomedical Science - SM3002


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  • Leptin-inhibited PBN neurons enhance responses to hypoglycemia in negative energy balance

    Flak, J. N., Patterson, C. M., Garfield, A. S., D'Agostino, G., Goforth, P. B., Sutton, A. K., Malec, P. A., Wong, J. T., Germani, M., Jones, J. C., Rajala, M., Satin, L., Rhodes, C. J., Olson, D. P., Kennedy, R. T., Heisler, L. K., Myers, M. G.
    Nature Neuroscience, vol. 17, pp. 1744-1750
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • 5-HT obesity medication efficacy via POMC activation is maintained during aging

    Burke, L. K., Doslikova, B., D'Agostino, G., Garfield, A. S., Farooq, G., Burdakov, D., Low, M., Rubinstein, M., Evans, M. L., Billups, B., Heisler, L.
    Endocrinology, vol. 155, no. 10, pp. 3732–3738
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Distribution of cells responsive to 5-HT6 receptor antagonist-induced hypophagia

    Garfield, A. S., Burke, L. K., Shaw, J., Evans, M. L., Heisler, L. K.
    Behavioural Brain Research, vol. 266, pp. 201-206
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Developmental Programming Mediated by Complementary Roles of Imprinted Grb10 in Mother and Pup

    Cowley, M., Garfield, A. S., Madon-Simon, M., Charalambous, M., Clarkson, R. W., Smalley, M. J., Kendrick, H., Isles, A. R., Parry, A. J., Carney, S., Oakey, R. J., Heisler, L. K., Moorwood, K., Wolf, J. B., Ward, A.
    PLoS Biology, vol. 12, no. 2, 1001799
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Profiling of glucose-sensing neurons reveals that ghrh neurons are activated by hypoglycemia

    Stanley, S., Domingos, A. I., Kelly, L., Garfield, A., Damanpour, S., Heisler, L., Friedman, J.
    Cell Metabolism, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 596-607
    Contributions 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 activated

    Doslikova, B., Garfield, A. S., Shaw, J., Evans, M. L., Burdakov, D., Billups, B., Heisler, L. K.
    Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 23, pp. 9800-9804
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Neuroanatomical characterisation of the expression of the lipodystrophy and motor-neuropathy gene Bscl2 in adult mouse brain

    Garfield, A. S., Chan, W. S., Dennis, R. J., Ito, D., Heisler, L. K., Rochford, J. J.
    PloS ONE, vol. 7, no. 9, e45790
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Brain glucose sensors play a significant role in the regulation of pancreatic glucose-stimulated insulin secretion

    Osundiji, M. A., Lam, D. D., Shaw, J., Yueh, C., Markkula, S. P., Hurst, P., Colliva, C., Roda, A., Heisler, L. K., Evans, M. L.
    Diabetes, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 321-328
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Setting the tone: reactive oxygen species and the control of appetitive melanocortin meurons

    Rochford, J. J., Myers, M. G., Heisler, L. K.
    Cell Metabolism, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 573-574
    Contributions to Journals: Editorials
  • Neuropeptide Y cells represent a distinct glucose-sensing population in the lateral hypothalamus

    Marston, O. J., Hurst, P., Evans, M. L., Burdakov, D. I., Heisler, L. K.
    Endocrinology, vol. 152, no. 11, pp. 4046-4052
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Leptin does not directly affect CNS serotonin neurons to influence appetite

    Lam, D. D., Leinninger, G. M., Louis, G. W., Garfield, A. S., Marston, O. J., Leshan, R. L., Scheller, E. L., Christensen, L., Donato, J., Xia, J., Evans, M. L., Elias, C., Dalley, J. W., Burdakov, D. I., Myers, M. G., Heisler, L. K.
    Cell Metabolism, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 584-591
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Identification of adropin as a secreted factor linking dietary macronutrient intake with energy homeostasis and lipid metabolism

    Kumar, K. G., Trevaskis, J. L., Lam, D. D., Sutton, G. M., Koza, R. A., Chouljenko, V. N., Kousoulas, K. G., Rogers, P. M., Kesterson, R. A., Thearle, M., Ferrante, A. W., Mynatt, R. L., Burris, T. P., Dong, J. Z., Halem, H. A., Culler, M. D., Heisler, L. K., Stephens, J. M., Butler, A. A.
    Cell Metabolism, vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 468-481
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • 5-HT2CRs expressed by pro-opiomelanocortin neurons regulate energy homeostasis

    Xu, Y., Jones, J. E., Kohno, D., Williams, K. W., Lee, C. E., Choi, M. J., Anderson, J. G., Heisler, L. K., Zigman, J. M., Lowell, B. B., Elmquist, J. K.
    Neuron, vol. 60, no. 4, pp. 582-589
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Serotonin 5-HT2C receptor agonist promotes hypophagia via downstream activation of melanocortin 4 receptors

    Lam, D. D., Przydzial, M. J., Ridley, S. H., Yeo, G. S. H., Rochford, J. J., O'Rahilly, S., Heisler, L. K.
    Endocrinology, vol. 149, no. 3, pp. 1323-1328
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Serotonin 2C receptor agonists improve type 2 diabetes via melanocortin-4 receptor signaling pathways

    Zhou, L., Sutton, G. M., Rochford, J. J., Semple, R. K., Lam, D. D., Oksanen, L. J., Thornton-Jones, Z. D., Clifton, P. G., Yueh, C., Evans, M. L., McCrimmon, R. J., Elmquist, J. K., Butler, A. A., Heisler, L. K.
    Cell Metabolism, vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 398-405
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Self-Defeating Personality Disorder Reconsidered

    Cruz, J., Joiner, T. E., Johnson, J. G., Heisler, L. K., Spitzer, R. L., Pettit, J. W.
    Journal of Personality Disorders, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 64-71
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Reduction of Fat and Protein Intakes But Not Carbohydrate Intake Following Acute and Chronic Fluoxetine in Female Rats

    Heisler, L. K., Kanarek, R. B., Homoleski, B.
    Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 377-385
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Knockout Corner: Neurobehavioural consequences of a serotonin 5-HT2C receptor gene mutation

    Heisler, L. K., Tecott, L. H.
    International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 67-69
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Prior Exposure to Palatable Solutions Enhances the Effects of Naltrexone on Food Intake in Rats

    Kanarek, R. B., Mathes, W. F., Heisler, L. K., Lima, R. P., Monfared, L. S.
    Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 57, no. 1-2, pp. 377-381
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
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