Professor Lora Heisler

Professor Lora Heisler
Professor Lora Heisler
Professor Lora Heisler


Chair in Human Nutrition

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 437446
Office Address

The Rowett Institute, office 4.056
AB25 2ZD

School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and 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 and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School USA.  In 2001, Professor Heisler was promoted to Instructor and set up her laboratory at Harvard.  She then relocated her group to the University of Cambridge, UK in 2004 where they worked for the next 10 years.  Prof Heisler was a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow at this time.  The Heisler laboratory moved to the Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen 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 postdoctoral fellow Dr Shuwen Mu!

Congratulations Dr Alasdair Leeson-Payne on his first authored publication to be published in Cell Metabolism 2024.

Many congratulations to PhD student Dhamyaa Al Halboosi on her first paper published in Neuropharmacology Dec 2023 entitled "Modulation of GABA release by 5-HT1B receptors: An interplay with AMPA-receptors and voltage-gated calcium channels."

Best wishes to former postdoctoral fellow Dr Pablo Martinez de Morentin who is setting up his new lab at University of Leeds.  

Congratulations Matev Arcon for his successful PhD viva!

See Prof Heisler present the lab's latest work at the Keystone 'Obesity Causes and Consequences' conference in Vancouver, Canada Feb 2024.

Sign up to attend the British Society for Neuroendocrinology's annual meeting in Aberdeen 1-3 July 2024


Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Director of Research, Rowett Institute

Aberdeen Cardiovascular and Diabetes Centre member

External Memberships

Deputy Editor, Molecular Metabolism

Scientific Advisory Board, Keystone Symposia

Latest Publications

View My Publications

Prizes and Awards

Professor Heisler was the recipient of the 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."

Professor Heisler was also the recipient of the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from the Obesity Society for her work defining the therapeutic mechanism of a globally prescribed obesity medication. 

She has received similar prizes from other international societies and is regularly invited to give Keynote talks at scientific conferences.


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

Current projects include: 

  • Identifying the brain mechanism of action of GLP-1 receptor obesity medications
  • Defining how mutations in the orphan receptor GPR75 are protective for the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease
  • Establishing how factors within the brainstem nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) control food intake and body weight
  • Defining how the brain controls physical activity and energy expenditure and how this circuitry become disrupted with ageing
  • Targeting brain serotonin (5-HT) receptors for the treatment of type 2 diabetes


Research team:

  • Dr Alasdair Leeson Payne - Research fellow
  • Dr Akihiro Mori - Research fellow
  • Dr Shuwen Mu - Research fellow
  • Miss Raffaella Chianese - Laboratory Manager
  • Miss Dhamyaa Al-Halboosi - PhD Student
  • Mr Matevz Arcon - PhD Student 
  • Miss Hollie Whyte - MSc Student
  • Miss Janvi Ghoricha - MSc Student
  • Miss Jessica Christie - MSc Student

Funding and Grants


Diabetes UK

Wellcome Trust

Medical Research Scotland


Teaching Responsibilities

Frontiers of Biomedical Science - SM3002


Page 2 of 3 Results 26 to 50 of 54

  • Intracerebroventricular Catalase Reduces Hepatic Insulin Sensitivity and Increases Responses to Hypoglycemia in Rats

    Markkula, S. P., Lyons, D., Yueh, C., Riches, C., Hurst, P., Fielding, B., Heisler, L. K., Evans, M. L.
    Endocrinology, vol. 157, no. 12, pp. 4669–4676
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Serotonin engages an anxiety and fear-promoting circuit in the extended amygdala

    Marcinkiewcz, C. A., Mazzone, C. M., D'Agostino, G., Halladay, L. R., Hardaway, J. A., DiBerto, J. F., Navarro, M., Burnham, N., Cristiano, C., Dorrier, C. E., Tipton, G. J., Ramakrishnan, C., Kozicz, T., Deisseroth, K., Thiele, T. E., McElligott, Z. A., Holmes, A., Heisler, L. K., Kash, T. L.
    Nature, vol. 537, pp. 97-101
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Chronic Activation of γ2 AMPK Induces Obesity and Reduces β Cell Function

    Yavari, A., Stocker, C. J., Ghaffari, S., Wargent, E. T., Steeples, V., Czibik, G., Pinter, K., Bellahcene, M., Woods, A., Martínez de Morentin, P. B., Cansell, C., Lam, B. Y. H., Chuster, A., Petkevicius, K., Nguyen-Tu, M., Martinez-Sanchez, A., Pullen, T. J., Oliver, P. L., Stockenhuber, A., Nguyen, C., Lazdam, M., O'Dowd, J. F., Harikumar, P., Tóth, M., Beall, C., Kyriakou, T., Parnis, J., Sarma, D., Katritsis, G., Wortmann, D. D. J., Harper, A. R., Brown, L. A., Willows, R., Gandra, S., Poncio, V., de Oliveira Figueiredo, M. J., Qi, N. R., Peirson, S. N., McCrimmon, R. J., Gereben, B., Tretter, L., Fekete, C., Redwood, C., Yeo, G. S. H., Heisler, L. K., Rutter, G. A., Smith, M. A., Withers, D. J., Carling, D., Sternick, E. B., Arch, J. R. S., Cawthorne, M. A., Watkins, H., Ashrafian, H.
    Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 821-836
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • 5-HT2Aand 5-HT2C receptors as hypothalamic targets of developmental programming in male rats

    Martin-Gronert, M. S., Stocker, C. J., Wargent, E. T., Cripps, R. L., Garfield, A. S., Jovanovic, Z., D'Agostino, G., Yeo, G. S. H., Cawthorne, M. A., Arch, J. R. S., Heisler, L. K., Ozanne, S. E.
    Development, vol. 143, no. 8, pp. 401-412
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors as hypothalamic targets of developmental programming in male rats

    Martin-Gronert, M. S., Stocker, C. J., Wargent, E. T., Cripps, R. L., Garfield, A. S., Jovanovic, Z., D'Agostino, G., Yeo, G. S. H., Cawthorne, M. A., Arch, J. R. S., Heisler, L. K., Ozanne, S. E.
    Disease Models & Mechanisms, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 401-412
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Appetite controlled by a cholecystokinin nucleus of the solitary tract to hypothalamus neurocircuit

    D'Agostino, G., Lyons, D. J., Cristiano, C., Burke, L. K., Madara, J. C., Campbell, J. N., Garcia, A. P., Land, B. B., Lowell, B. B., Dileone, R. J., Heisler, L. K.
    eLife, vol. 5, 12225
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Sex difference in physical activity, energy expenditure and obesity driven by a subpopulation of hypothalamic POMC neurons

    Burke, L. K., Doslikova, B., D'Agostino, G., Greenwald-Yarnell, M., Georgescu, T., Chianese, R., Martinez de Morentin, P. B., Ogunnowo-Bada, E., Cansell, C., Valencia-Torres, L., Garfield, A. S., Apergis-Schoute, J., Lam, D. D., Speakman, J. R., Rubinstein, M., Low, M. J., Rochford, J. J., Myers, M. G., Evans, M. L., Heisler, L. K.
    Molecular Metabolism, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 245-252
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha plays a crucial role in behavioral repetition and cognitive flexibility in mice

    D'Agostino, G., Cristiano, C., Lyons, D. J., Citraro, R., Russo, E., Avagliano, C., Russo, R., Raso, G. M., Meli, R., De Sarro, G., Heisler, L. K., Calignano, A.
    Molecular Metabolism, vol. 4, no. 7, pp. 528-536
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • 5-Hydroxytryptamine Medications for the Treatment of Obesity

    Burke, L. K., Heisler, L.
    Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 389-398
    Contributions to Journals: Literature Reviews
  • A Parabrachial-Hypothalamic Cholecystokinin Neurocircuit Controls Counterregulatory Responses to Hypoglycemia

    Garfield, A. S., Shah, B. P., Madara, J. C., Burke, L. K., Patterson, C. M., Flak, J., Neve, R. L., Evans, M. L., Lowell, B. B., Myers, M. G., Heisler, L. K.
    Cell Metabolism, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 1030-1037
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • 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
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Contributions to Journals

Working Papers