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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  • 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
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