Professor Lora Heisler

Professor Lora Heisler

Chair in Human Nutrition

Professor Lora Heisler
Professor Lora Heisler

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 437446
work +44 (0)1224 437540
The University of Aberdeen The Rowett Institute, office 4.056
AB25 2ZD


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.


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 Interests

Mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of obesity and type 2 diabetes


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

  • Dr Delia Ramirez - Research fellow
  • Dr Yuliia Martynova - Research fellow
  • Dr Pablo Blanco Martinez de Morentin - Research fellow
  • Dr Stefan Wagner - Research fellow
  • Mr Alasdair Leeson Payne - Research fellow
  • Miss Raffaella Chianese - Research assistant
  • Miss Tania Pérez Márquez - Research assistant
  • Mr Matevz Arcon - PhD Student 

Research Grants


Diabetes UK

Wellcome Trust


British Heart Foundation

Medical Research Scotland


Teaching Responsibilities

Frontiers of Biomedical Science - SM3002

Further Info

External Responsibilities

Deputy Editor, Molecular Metabolism

SAB, Keysone Symposia

Admin Responsibilities

Obesity and Food Choice Theme Lead



Currently viewing:

Page 1 of 2 Results 1 to 25 of 39

  • Georgescu, T, Lyons, D, Doslikova, B, Garcia, AP, Marston, O, Burke, LK, Chianese, R, Lam, BYH, Yeo, GSH, Rochford, JJ, Garfield, AS & Heisler, LK 2020, 'Neurochemical characterization of brainstem Pro-opiomelanocortin cells', Endocrinology, vol. 161, no. 4, bqaa032, pp. 1-13. [Online] DOI:
  • Meakin, PJ, Jalicy, SM, Montagut, G, Allsop, DJP, Cavellini, DL, Irvine, SW, McGinley, C, Liddell, MK, McNeilly, AD, Parmionova, K, Liu, Y-R, Bailey, CLS, Dale, JK, Heisler, LK, McCrimmon, RJ & Ashford, MLJ 2018, 'Bace1-dependent amyloid processing regulates hypothalamic leptin sensitivity in obese mice', Scientific Reports, vol. 8, 55. [Online] DOI:
  • Chakera, AJ, Hurst, PS, Spyer, G, Ogunnowo-Bada, EO, Marsh, WJ, Riches, CH, Yueh, C-Y, Markkula, SP, Dalley, JW, Cox, RD, Macdonald, IA, Amiel, SA, MacLeod, KM, Heisler, LK, Hattersley, AT & Evans, ML 2018, 'Molecular reductions in glucokinase activity increase counter-regulatory responses to hypoglycemia in mice and humans with diabetes', Molecular Metabolism, vol. 17, pp. 17-27. [Online] DOI:
  • d'Agostino, G, Lyons, D, Cristiano, C, Lettieri, M, Olarte-Sanchez, C, Burke, LK, Greenwald-Yarnell, M, Cansell, C, Doslikova, B, Georgescu, T, Blanco Martinez de Morentin, P, Myers Jr., MG, Rochford, JJ & Heisler, L 2018, 'Nucleus of the Solitary Tract Serotonin 5-HT2C Receptors Modulate Food Intake', Cell Metabolism, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 619.-630.e5. [Online] DOI:
  • Rupp, AC, Allison, MB, Jones, JC, Patterson, CM, Faber, CL, Bozadjieva, N, Heisler, LK, Seeley, RJ, Olson, DP & Myers Jr., MG 2018, 'Specific Subpopulations of Hypothalamic Leptin Receptor-Expressing Neurons Mediate the Effects of Early Developmental Leptin Receptor Deletion on Energy Balance', Molecular Metabolism, vol. 14, pp. 130-138. [Online] DOI:
  • Xu, P, He, Y, Cao, X, Valencia-Torres, L, Yan, X, Saito, K, Wang, C, Yang, Y, Hinton Jr., A, Zhu, L, Shu, G, Myers Jr., MG, Wu, Q, Tong, Q, Heisler, LK & Xu, Y 2017, 'Activation of Serotonin 2C Receptors in Dopamine Neurons Inhibits Binge-like Eating in Mice', Biological Psychiatry, vol. 81, no. 9, pp. 737-747. [Online] DOI:
  • Valencia-Torres, L, Olarte-Sanchez, CM, Lyons, DJ, Georgescu, T, Greewald-Yarnell, M, Myers, MG, Bradshaw, CM & Heisler, LK 2017, 'Activation of Ventral Tegmental Area 5-HT2C Receptors Reduces Incentive Motivation', Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 42, no. 7, pp. 1511-1521. [Online] DOI:
  • Heisler, LK & Lam, DD 2017, 'An appetite for life: brain regulation of hunger and satiety', Current Opinion in Pharmacology, vol. 37, pp. 100-106. [Online] DOI:
  • Burke, LK, Ogunnowo-Bada, E, Georgescu, T, Cristiano, C, Martinez De Morentin, PB, Valencia-Torres, L, D'Agostino, G, Riches, C, Heeley, N, Ruan, Y, Rubinstein, M, Low, MJ, Myers, MG, Rochford, JJ, Evans, ML & Heisler, LK 2017, 'Lorcaserin improves glycemic control via a melanocortin neurocircuit', Molecular Metabolism, vol. 6, no. 10, pp. 1092-1102. [Online] DOI:
  • Martin-Gronert, MS, Stocker, CJ, Wargent, ET, Cripps, RL, Garfield, AS, Jovanovic, Z, D'Agostino, G, Yeo, GSH, Cawthorne, MA, Arch, JRS, Heisler, LK & Ozanne, SE 2016, '5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors as hypothalamic targets of developmental programming in male rats', Disease Models & Mechanisms, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 401-412. [Online] DOI:
  • Martin-Gronert, MS, Stocker, CJ, Wargent, ET, Cripps, RL, Garfield, AS, Jovanovic, Z, D'Agostino, G, Yeo, GSH, Cawthorne, MA, Arch, JRS, Heisler, LK & Ozanne, SE 2016, '5-HT2Aand 5-HT2C receptors as hypothalamic targets of developmental programming in male rats', Development, vol. 143, no. 8, pp. 401-412. [Online] DOI:
  • D'Agostino, G, Lyons, DJ, Cristiano, C, Burke, LK, Madara, JC, Campbell, JN, Garcia, AP, Land, BB, Lowell, BB, Dileone, RJ & Heisler, LK 2016, 'Appetite controlled by a cholecystokinin nucleus of the solitary tract to hypothalamus neurocircuit', eLife, vol. 5, 12225, pp. 1-15. [Online] DOI:
  • Yavari, A, Stocker, CJ, Ghaffari, S, Wargent, ET, Steeples, V, Czibik, G, Pinter, K, Bellahcene, M, Woods, A, Martínez de Morentin, PB, Cansell, C, Lam, BYH, Chuster, A, Petkevicius, K, Nguyen-Tu, M-S, Martinez-Sanchez, A, Pullen, TJ, Oliver, PL, Stockenhuber, A, Nguyen, C, Lazdam, M, O'Dowd, JF, Harikumar, P, Tóth, M, Beall, C, Kyriakou, T, Parnis, J, Sarma, D, Katritsis, G, Wortmann, DDJ, Harper, AR, Brown, LA, Willows, R, Gandra, S, Poncio, V, de Oliveira Figueiredo, MJ, Qi, NR, Peirson, SN, McCrimmon, RJ, Gereben, B, Tretter, L, Fekete, C, Redwood, C, Yeo, GSH, Heisler, LK, Rutter, GA, Smith, MA, Withers, DJ, Carling, D, Sternick, EB, Arch, JRS, Cawthorne, MA, Watkins, H & Ashrafian, H 2016, 'Chronic Activation of γ2 AMPK Induces Obesity and Reduces β Cell Function', Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 821-836. [Online] DOI:
  • Garfield, AS, Davies, JR, Burke, LK, Furby, HV, Wilkinson, LS, Heisler, LK & Isles, AR 2016, 'Increased alternate splicing of Htr2c in a mouse model for Prader-Willi syndrome leads disruption of 5HT2C receptor mediated appetite', Molecular brain, vol. 9, no. 1, 95. [Online] DOI:
  • Markkula, SP, Lyons, D, Yueh, C-Y, Riches, C, Hurst, P, Fielding, B, Heisler, LK & Evans, ML 2016, 'Intracerebroventricular Catalase Reduces Hepatic Insulin Sensitivity and Increases Responses to Hypoglycemia in Rats', Endocrinology, vol. 157, no. 12, pp. 4669–4676. [Online] DOI:
  • Marcinkiewcz, CA, Mazzone, CM, D'Agostino, G, Halladay, LR, Hardaway, JA, DiBerto, JF, Navarro, M, Burnham, N, Cristiano, C, Dorrier, CE, Tipton, GJ, Ramakrishnan, C, Kozicz, T, Deisseroth, K, Thiele, TE, McElligott, ZA, Holmes, A, Heisler, LK & Kash, TL 2016, 'Serotonin engages an anxiety and fear-promoting circuit in the extended amygdala', Nature, vol. 537, 19318, pp. 97-101. [Online] DOI:
  • Burke, LK, Doslikova, B, D'Agostino, G, Greenwald-Yarnell, M, Georgescu, T, Chianese, R, Martinez de Morentin, PB, Ogunnowo-Bada, E, Cansell, C, Valencia-Torres, L, Garfield, AS, Apergis-Schoute, J, Lam, DD, Speakman, JR, Rubinstein, M, Low, MJ, Rochford, JJ, Myers, MG, Evans, ML & Heisler, LK 2016, 'Sex difference in physical activity, energy expenditure and obesity driven by a subpopulation of hypothalamic POMC neurons', Molecular Metabolism, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 245-252. [Online] DOI:
  • Burke, LK & Heisler, L 2015, '5-Hydroxytryptamine Medications for the Treatment of Obesity', Journal of Neuroendocrinology, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 389-398. [Online] DOI:
  • D'Agostino, G, Cristiano, C, Lyons, DJ, Citraro, R, Russo, E, Avagliano, C, Russo, R, Raso, GM, Meli, R, De Sarro, G, Heisler, LK & Calignano, A 2015, 'Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha plays a crucial role in behavioral repetition and cognitive flexibility in mice', Molecular Metabolism, vol. 4, no. 7, pp. 528-536. [Online] DOI:
  • Burke, LK, Doslikova, B, D'Agostino, G, Garfield, AS, Farooq, G, Burdakov, D, Low, M, Rubinstein, M, Evans, ML, Billups, B & Heisler, L 2014, '5-HT obesity medication efficacy via POMC activation is maintained during aging', Endocrinology, vol. 155, no. 10, pp. 3732–3738. [Online] DOI:
  • Garfield, AS, Shah, BP, Madara, JC, Burke, LK, Patterson, CM, Flak, J, Neve, RL, Evans, ML, Lowell, BB, Myers, MG & Heisler, LK 2014, 'A Parabrachial-Hypothalamic Cholecystokinin Neurocircuit Controls Counterregulatory Responses to Hypoglycemia', Cell Metabolism, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 1030-1037. [Online] DOI:
  • Cowley, M, Garfield, AS, Madon-Simon, M, Charalambous, M, Clarkson, RW, Smalley, MJ, Kendrick, H, Isles, AR, Parry, AJ, Carney, S, Oakey, RJ, Heisler, LK, Moorwood, K, Wolf, JB & Ward, A 2014, 'Developmental Programming Mediated by Complementary Roles of Imprinted Grb10 in Mother and Pup', PLoS Biology, vol. 12, no. 2, 1001799. [Online] DOI:
  • Garfield, AS, Burke, LK, Shaw, J, Evans, ML & Heisler, LK 2014, 'Distribution of cells responsive to 5-HT6 receptor antagonist-induced hypophagia', Behavioural Brain Research, vol. 266, pp. 201-206. [Online] DOI:
  • Flak, JN, Patterson, CM, Garfield, AS, D'Agostino, G, Goforth, PB, Sutton, AK, Malec, PA, Wong, J-MT, Germani, M, Jones, JC, Rajala, M, Satin, L, Rhodes, CJ, Olson, DP, Kennedy, RT, Heisler, LK & Myers, MG 2014, 'Leptin-inhibited PBN neurons enhance responses to hypoglycemia in negative energy balance', Nature Neuroscience, vol. 17, no. 12, pp. 1744-1750. [Online] DOI:
  • Doslikova, B, Garfield, AS, Shaw, J, Evans, ML, Burdakov, D, Billups, B & Heisler, LK 2013, '5-HT2C receptor agonist anorectic efficacy potentiated by 5-HT1B receptor agonist coapplication: an effect mediated via increased proportion of pro-opiomelanocortin neurons activated', Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 33, no. 23, pp. 9800-9804. [Online] DOI:
Show 10 | 25 | 50 | 100 results per page