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Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

 

I study the genetic basis of obesity using the canine primary model, with a focus on neuroendocrine genes. This offers the chance to better understand the mechanisms of appetite control and energy balance in the CNS across mammalian species, with potential implications in obesity prevention and treatment.

Co-supervised by - Dr Eleanor Raffan (PDN) and Dr Giles Yeo (IMS-MRL)

Research

Genetics plays a significant, yet underappreciated, role in obesity development. I study the genetics basis of obesity, with a focus on neuroendocrine genes. This offers the chance to better understand the mechanisms of appetite control and energy balance in the central nervous system (CNS). My primary genetic model for studying obesity is pet dogs, with potential translational benefits to humans and other companion animals. Due to historic population bottlenecks and extensive artificial breeding, canine genomic architecture offers a unique opportunity to highlight the genetic underpinnings of obesity in mammals. Additionally, due to dogs having shared environments with humans for thousands of years, the manifestation, prevalence and aetiology of obesity is more similar between dogs and humans than any other animal model. My overall aim is to elucidate the genetic underpinnings of this complex disease and contribute to: obesity prevention, obesity treatment and combatting obesity stigma, across the fields of human and veterinary medicine.

Publications

Key publications: 

Wallis, N. and Raffan, E., 2020. The Genetic Basis of Obesity and Related Metabolic Diseases in Humans and Companion Animals. Genes, 11(11), p.1378. DOI: 10.3390/genes11111378