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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



I am interested in how genes influence metabolism. In dogs, selective breeding has resulted an unusual genetic architecture that makes mapping disease-associated loci remarkably tractable with much smaller numbers than in human populations.  We study pet dogs and use comparative genomics to identify genes that are responsible for determining obesity susceptibility in dogs and humans. 

The mechanism of action and physiological consequences of variants of interest are tested in the lab in cellular models, and at a whole-dog level by examining their effect on eating behaviour and physiology. All our canine studies are carried out with volunteer owners and their pet or working dogs.

Our overall aim is to understand how genes link to obesity in both dogs and humans, to reveal mechanistic links and identify targets to improve obesity prevention and treatment.

I am a veterinary surgeon with specialist clinical qualifications in small animal medicine. In 2013 I set up the GOdogs Project, investigating the genetics of obesity in dogs and now focus largely on research but I also offer a clinical obesity referral service at the vet school here in Cambridge.


Prof. Stephen O’Rahilly (Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science)
Dr Giles Yeo (Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science)
Dr David Sargan (Dept. Veterinary Medicine)
Prof Nick Wareham & Dr Claudia Langenberg (MRC Epidemiology Unit)
Dr Davide Chiarugi (Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science)


Key publications: 

Raffan E, Dennis RJ, O’Donovan CJ, Becker JM, Scott RA, Smith SP, Wood CJ, Conci E, Clements DN, Summers KM, German AJ, Mellersh CS, Arendt ML, Iyemere VPE, Söder J, Wernersson S, Andersson G, Lindblad-Toh K, Yeo GSH, O’Rahilly S., A deletion in the canine POMC gene is associated with weight and appetite in obesity prone Labrador retriever dogs. Cell Metabolism. 2016 May 10;23(5):893-900

Raffan E, Smith SP, O’Rahilly S, Wardle J, Development, factor structure and application of the Dog Obesity Risk and Appetite (DORA) questionnaire. PeerJ 2015 Sep 29;3:e1278

E Raffan, J Becker, G Yeo, S O’Rahilly, The coding sequence of POMC and obesity and appetite in Labrador retriever dogs. The Lancet. 2017, Feb 26, 383:S86

E Raffan, The big problem: battling companion animal obesity. Vet Rec. 2013 Sep 28;173(12):287-91

E Raffan, MA Soos, N Rocha, T Tuthill, AR Thomasen, CS Hyden, J Gregory, P Hindmarsh, M Dattani, E Cochran, J Al Kaabi, P Gorden, I Barroso, N Morling, S O’Rahilly, RK Semple. Founder effect in the Horn of Africa for an insulin receptor mutation that may impair receptor recycling. Diabetologia 54(5):1057-1065 May 2011

University Lecturer in Systems Physiology
Picture of Dr Eleanor  Raffan

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