Celebrating International Women's Day with Obesity Researcher Prof Lora Heisler

Celebrating International Women's Day with Obesity Researcher Prof Lora Heisler
2024-03-07

Professor Lora Heisler gives some insight into what it is like to be a biomedical researcher at the Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen, and her tips for success.

What are you working on now?

I feel very fortunate to be an obesity researcher at this point in time where the latest technological advances provide a means to achieve important discoveries that can improve human health. It feels like we have been given the keys to unlock the longstanding metabolic mysteries. It is really exciting!  My laboratory at the Rowett Institute seeks to discover how the brain senses and responds to food intake with the aim of identifying new ways to control body weight and promote health. We also study conditions associated with obesity such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

What inspired you to study food intake?

The question that I became fascinated with during my PhD research is how the brain controls appetite, and in particular, how the neurotransmitter serotonin modulates food intake. This led to a postdoctoral work on serotonin receptors that are expressed in the brain and then setting up my own laboratory.

What are some career highlights?

While a postdoctoral fellow, we discovered how a globally prescribed obesity medication produces its therapeutic benefits. This then led to work where we examined how to make a better, more targeted drug with fewer side effects. For career discoveries such as these, I was very fortunate to be recognised with Outstanding Scientific Achievement prizes, medals and awards from different academic societies from different countries around the world.

What advice would you give to students and those early in their career?

My advice is, first and foremost, do what you love. Create your own vision. To pursue your vision, seek out (well in advance) the best mentors and researchers who can train you to use the latest technology to best tackle your evolving research question.

Lora and a colleague working in the lab

What is the recipe for success?

Support is crucial. From family, mentors, a strong team, local expertise, equipment, and facilities. The work that we are doing now is propelled by my talented research team and the outstanding environment at the University of Aberdeen. And then work hard: organisation, determination, and perseverance are essential.

The opportunities are out there to make discoveries that can improve human health on a global scale. I look forward to seeing it all unfold and what the next generation will achieve!

Twitter (X): @LoraHeisler 
LinkedIn: Lora Heisler

Published by The School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, University of Aberdeen

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