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


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Contributions to Journals

Working Papers