Members of LORN

The Liverpool Obesity Research Network is made up of several research units and groups across the University of Liverpool, Aintree University Hospital and Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital Trusts.


  • Appetite and Obesity Research Group

A broad spectrum of basic and applied research, addressing behavioural and psychological processes at a variety of levels - from the molecular to the whole person.

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Facilities: The Human Ingestive Behaviour (Kissileff) Laboratory provides possibly the largest dedicated academic facility of its kind in the UK.  It consists of a research kitchen, assessment room, testing rooms, energy balance lab (with IDXA body composition and biological sampling for key biomarkers), bioassay lab, a media analysis suite, a social eating lab and a participant day lounge.

Academic Staff:

  • Professor Jason Halford
  • Professor Tim Kirkham
  • Dr Jo Harrold
  • Dr Emma Boyland
  • Dr Eric Robinson
  • Dr Charlotte Hardman

Research Interests:

  • Effects of nutrients on appetite
  • Functional foods and nutraceuticals for weight control
  • Pre-clinical and clinical studies of anti-obesity treatments
  • Development of food preference and weight gain in infants
  • Impact of food promotion on eating behaviour and diet
  • Neurochemical, hormonal and metabolic signals in appetite
  • Overconsumption and addictive behaviours

Funding: BBSRC, Coca-Cola, Californian Prune Board, Danone, EU FP7MRC, GSK, Heinz, Ingredion, Kemin, OSI-Prosidion, MRC, Natures Remedies, Tate and Lyle, Unilever and Weight Watchers.


More Details: Group Website

Contact: Professor Jason Halford

 


  • Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinical Research Unit

Investigative medicine and clinical trials in diabetes and obesity, with extensive experience in phase 2 and 3 clinical studies.

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Facilities: The unit has a dedicated Patient Assessment Area based in the Clinical Sciences Centre and is staffed by a clinical trial co-ordinator, research nurses, clinical research fellows and dieticians.

Academic and other staff:

  • Professor John Wilding
  • Professor Geoff Gill
  • Dr Christina Daousi
  • Dr Daniel Cuthbertson
  • Mrs Maureen Wallymahmed

Research Interests:

  • Effect of gut hormones on appetite and metabolism.
  • Mechanistic studies examining the metabolic and food intake effects of anti-obesity agents.
  • Novel treatments for diabetes.
  • Role of skeletal muscle in insulin resistance and obesity.
  • Cross-talk between hypothalamus and adipose tissue.

Funding: Funding is actively sought from research councils, industrial and charitable sources. Current sponsors include Sanofi–Aventis, Pharmacia Ltd, Takeda, Speedel Pharma Ltd, Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, Abbott Laboratories, Novartis, Astra Zeneca, DIABETES UK, Overweight & Heart Disease Research Trust/BMA and Asthma UK.

Contact: Professor John Wilding

 


  • Epithelial Function and Development

Gut adaptation to varied diets, nutrients sensing and signalling in the intestinal epithelium and gut-brain communications.

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Facilities: Studies are performed using an integrative approach, with investigations at the level of molecules, cells, organs an the whole organism using a wide range of biochemical, cellular and molecular biological techniques.

Academic Staff:

  • Professor Soraya Shirazi-Beechey
  • Dr Kristian Daly
  • Ms Erin Coulter
  • Mrs Rasha Alshali
  • Mr Darren Weatherburn
  • Dr Andrew Moran
  • Dr Miran Al-Rammahi

Research Interests:

  • Nutrient sensing and regulation of gastrointestinal function
  • Impact of nutrients on the composition and activity of intestinal microflora and their effect on intestinal function.


More Details: Group website

Contact: Professor Soraya Shirazi-Beechey

 


  • Obesity Biology Unit

Understanding the biology of adipose tissue at the molecular level by investigating the production, regulation and function of protein factors (adipokines) secreted by such tissue.

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Facilities: Cell cultures facilities and molecular biology laboratories and close links with Clinical Biochemistry, Veterinary Clinical Sciences and the Clinical Research Unit (Aintree Hospital)

Academic Staff:

  • Dr Chen Bing
  • Dr Dan Gao
  • Dr Mohamed Madi

Research Interests:

  • Endocrine and signalling role of adipose tissue in obesity and links to the metabolic syndrome.
  • Inflammation, adipose tissue function and obesity.
  • Hypoxia in adipose tissue function.
  • Mechanistic basis of adipose tissue atrophy in cachexia.

Funding: MRC, BBSRC, the Royal Society, the European Union, RLBUH NHS Trust and the University of Liverpool, Unilever (CASE award) and the Waltham Centre.


More Details: Unit Website

Contact: Dr Chen Bing

 


  • Vetinary Obesity and Endocrinology

Neural control of energy regulation and companion animal (pet) obesity.

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Facilities: Whole-cell patch recording studies, immunochemical studies, tissue culture, molecular biology, larger animal food intake and neuroendocrine measurement, and Europe's only weight-loss referral clinic for companion animals.

Academic Staff:

  • Dr Alex German
  • Dr Caroline Argo
  • Dr Lucy Pickavance

Research Interests:

  • Hypothalamic nutrient signal detection.
  • Obesity management in dogs and cats.
  • Fundamental studies on adipose tissue biology.
  • Endocrine regulation and adipocyte function.


More Details: Group Website

Contact: Dr Alex German

 


  • Effects of Imprinted Genes on Growth and Metabolism

Examining the influences of genes that are regulated by a special genetic mechanism, termed ‘Genomic Imprinting’, on growth and the regulation of energy homeostasis at postnatal and adult stages.

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Group Details:

Led by Dr Antonius Plagge, this group is especially interested in the signalling proteins Gαs and XLαs (encoded by the Gnas locus) and use genetically modified mouse models to investigate the physiological, neural and neuroendocrine pathways, in which these proteins act to influence growth, metabolic rate and adipose reserves.

Location: Physiological Laboratory, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Liverpool.

Facilities: The group has been established recently in newly refurbished laboratory spaces and has special expertise in mouse ES-cell culture and gene targeting strategies among other techniques.

Research Interests:

  • Analysis of the functions of the XLαs and XLN1 proteins of the Gnas locus in the central nervous system and peripheral tissues.
  • Antagonistic effects of Gαs and XLαs on metabolic rate and SNS activity.
  • Neuropeptide signalling pathways in the central regulation of feeding and energy expenditure.

Funding: The work in this group is funded by project grants from the Royal Society and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Contact: Dr Antonius Plagge

 


  • Obesity Diabetes and Metabolic Bone Disease

Led by Dr Lakshminarayan Rao Ranganathan the core interest of this group is in the patho-physiological role of gastrointestinal hormones and insulin secretion in areas such as obesity, diabetes, ageing and metabolic bone disease.

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Location: Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolic Medicine, Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

Facilities: Access to a multitude of research methodology and large capacity analytical techniques is available within the Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolic Medicine (DCBMM) lending itself to collaborative activities.  The DCBMM has clinical and research interests in metabolic bone disease involved in unravelling the role of nutrition and gut hormones in this area. Dr Ranganath has a DDx exemption certificate by the MHRA to conduct studies in human subjects that involves the administration of gut hormones.

Background and research interests:

  • Core interest in the patho-physiological role of gastrointestinal hormones and insulin secretion in areas such as obesity, diabetes, ageing and metabolic bone disease.
  • Current links with the Obesity Biology Unit researching the role of gut hormones in adipose tissue biology. 
  • Collaboration examining the effects of gut hormone infusion on metabolism (carbohydrate, lipid, adipose and bone metabolism).
  • Propensity of type 2 diabetes in Southern Asians.
  • Alkaptonuria (AKU), specifically to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms of cartilage and connective tissue damage in this condition. 

Current research projects (supported by a number of grant awards):

  • Efficacy of glucagon-like peptide-1 infusion in metabolic subsets of type 2 diabetes (collaboration with Dr T Purewal).
  • The evaluation of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide infusion in human type 2 diabetes to understand their role in satiety as well as energy and intermediary metabolism.
  • Investigation into the effects of gut hormone GLP-1 on bone metabolism in normal and osteoporotic humans.
  • Evaluation of the incretin effect in South Asians.
  • Study of the nature of damage induced by homogentisic acid and its polymer in cartilage and other connective tissue.

Contact: Dr Lakshminarayan Ranganath

 


  • Magnetic Resonance and Image Analysis Research Centre (MARIARC)

MARIARC is a Shared Research Facility of the Technology Directorate of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

MARIARC has expertise in  3 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and 1.5 Tesla MRI, scanning.  Staff in the facility have particular expertise in functional MRI (fMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H and 31P MRS) , quantitative MRI image analysis, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and perfusion imaging.

More Details: MARIARC Website

Contact: Professor Simon Frostic