Research Backgrounds

Odysseas Androutsos

O_AndroutsosOdysseas Androutsos is a Dietitian-Nutritionist, MSc (MMedSci), PhD student, Research Associate at Harokopio University of Athens. He is involved in the project in the part of appetite regulation across the lifespan (WP1) and brain imaging during food presentation and food choice (WP3).

William Buosi

I am originally from the South-West of France, where I received in 2010 an engineer degree in agronomy from the ENITA de Bordeaux, renamed this year Bordeaux Sciences Agro. During my study programme, I specialised in human health and nutrition. I then underwent a summer placement at the Rowett Institute in 2009, where I worked on a breakfast study aiming to understand the effect of breakfast presentation on appetite throughout the morning and subsequent lunch intake. Also interested in biochemistry, I spent my last 6 months of engineering degree programme as a trainee for the Nestle Research Centre (Lausanne, Switzerland) during which I contributed to the development and validation of different lipids analytical methods supporting bioavailability studies.

After these two complementary experiences, I started a PhD studentship as part of Julian Mercer and Alex Johnstone’s team working on the Full4Health breakfast and fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) human study (WP1) in November 2011.

Research within Full4Health:
Whereas our parents or grandparents were used to quite strict daily dietary habits, usually following a strict meal plan -breakfast, lunch and dinner-, today’s children are almost constantly under food stimulation: advertisement, vending machines, stores, .... As the consumption of unhealthy snacks and sodas is rising, childhood obesity is hitting records, raising concern about its consequences for their future health and well-being. A better understanding of the rewarding power of food, its influence on our gut hormone responses and our brain activation should enable us to develop new strategies of food intake control throughout the lifespan. To address these questions we are designing an exciting study in collaboration with the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands), the Harkopio University of Athens (Greece) and Danone Research (The Netherlands) which will involve the participation of male and female volunteers aged between 8 and 75 years old.

Nikki Cassie

N_Cassie I received my undergraduate degree in Genetics from the University of Aberdeen and then my Masters in Medical Biotechnology with Biobusiness from the University of Aberdeen. My PhD is at the Rowett institute in Aberdeen. My Area of study is the brain and gut interactions in the regulation of food intake. My studies include the response of the hind brain to different diets and different forms of diets, the micro array analysis of gene expression in different states and then to go on and look at nutrient sensing in the gut.

Lisette Charbonnier

L_CharbonnierLisette Charbonnier is a PhD candidate at the University Medical Centre Utrecht. She investigates the differences in the brain responses to food presentation and food choice and how these responses are modulated by hunger and gut signals in normal weight and overweight subjects across the lifespan.

Dan Crabtree

N_Cassie Daniel Crabtree is a research assistant at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health in Aberdeen working under the supervision of Dr Alex Johnstone and Professor Julian Mercer. Prior to working at the Rowett Institute, Daniel conducted his PhD at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Dr Andrew Blannin, and is currently in the process of submitting his PhD thesis which focuses on the acute effects of exercise on appetite regulation. As part of his PhD, Daniel examined the effects of exercise at different ambient temperatures on hunger and feeding responses, and gut hormone circulation in overweight/obese middle-aged men and women. He also investigated the impact of acute high intensity exercise on both peripheral gut hormone circulation, and central neural responses to images of high- and low-calorie foods in physically active males. As part of the Full4Health project, Daniel will be involved in the implementation of WP1 examining gut-brain interactions and the role they play in short-term appetite control across the lifespan.

Catherine Gibbons

C_GibbonsCatherine Gibbons is an exercise physiologist with a Masters in Sport and Exercise Nutrition. She has experience investigating the effects of acute exercise sessions on acylated ghrelin, appetite and energy intake. Catherine moved to the University of Leeds to investigate these issues on a larger scale, particularly during long-term exercise in overweight and obese groups. She now works on the Full4Health project as a full-time research assistant and part-time PhD student concentrating on the effects of long-term exercise on the role gastrointestinal hormones play in eating behaviour and energy balance. .

Helene Johannessen

H.JohannessenMy name is Helene Johannessen and I am a PhD student at Professor Duan Chen’s group at Norwegian University of Science and Technology. My field of interest is surgical obesity treatment and I am mainly working with microsurgery on mice and rats and eating behavior determination using Comprehensive Laboratory Animal Monitoring System. In the Full4Health project I am working on the role of the vagus nerve in brain signaling and response to food and gut hormones.

Yosuke Kodama

Y_KodamaI mainly work on bariatric surgeries (vagotomy, sleeve gastrectomy, duodenal switch, illeal interposition and vagal nerve stimulation device implantation) on rodent models, and eating behavioral analysis and gene profiling analysis on those models..

Dr. Brian Lam

Brian LamI am a post-doctoral fellow in Yeo's Lab at the University of Cambridge and I am interested in the systems biology and functional genomics in the brain in response to hunger and satiety signals. Currently, I am modelling the chronological changes in global gene expression profiles with food intake in various brain regions, including the hypothalamus and the hind-brain, in order to construct a genetic regulatory network that could give us a better insight into the molecular mechanism of appetite control.

Related links:

Dr. Rachel Larder

Rachel_LarderWorkpackage 12: Molecules that mediate the hypothalamic response to diets of different macronutrient composition

With the sequencing of the human genome, new genes that could potentially be involved in the genetics of obesity are emerging every day. Together with Dr Giles Yeo and Dr Tony Coll at The Institute of Metabolic Science ( I have established that several of these novel genes exhibit highly enriched expression within specific regions of the brain known to control appetite and energy expenditure. We are using animal models and adeno-viral technology to manipulate expression of these genes within the brain and study any potential metabolic consequences.

Dr. Claire Meek

Claire Meek

I am a medical doctor at registrar level working in Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridge, UK. My specialist field is Chemical pathology with Metabolic medicine - this field combines medical biochemistry with the clinical care of patients with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity and dyslipidaemias. I am planning to study towards a PhD as part of my project with Full4Health, under the supervision of Dr Fiona Gribble, Dr Frank Reimann and Dr Adrian Park.

Our understanding of the pathophysiology of obesity has changed over recent years following the success of bariatric surgery and particularly the roux-en-Y procedure. Many authorities attribute the beneficial effects of surgery to an increased solute load to the distal ileum, and particularly to increased stimulation of entero-endocrine L cells which are located in greatest density in this area. Stimulated L cells release the hormone GLP-1 which is associated with satiety and improved glucose homeostasis. My project with Full4Health involves the identification of substances which could be given in capsular form to provoke GLP-1 release in human subjects, which may offer beneficial metabolic effects without the need for surgery.

Dr. John Menzies

J.MenziesMany natural behaviours are goal-oriented. Behaviour is directed toward a specific aim such as obtaining food or a sexual partner. Animals are motivated to perform these behaviours in part to achieve the pleasurable sensations associated with them. Animals, including humans, prefer palatable (high-sugar, high-fat) foods to bland food. But these foods’ rewarding properties can activate the brain’s motivation pathways to overwhelm normal control of eating and lead to bouts of overeating. Some consider this to be a form of addiction and believe it may contribute to the obesity epidemic.
I am interested in how the brain signals reward and pleasure and how this is influenced by diet, by obesity and by stress. I focus on the role of neuropeptides. These peptides are essential to proper control of feeding but also have a hitherto unrecognised role in hedonic eating. Little is known about which populations of reward-related neurones are peptide-sensitive, what neural circuits they form and how these networks evoke, inhibit or modify behaviours.
Our Full4Health project (WP11) is a collaboration between Roger Adan (Utrecht), Mike Shipston and Gareth Leng (Edinburgh). We use optogenetic technology to control neuronal activity and behaviour in vivo. This is achieved via viral insertion of genes expressing light-sensitive ion channels. These channels, normally found in unicellular green algae, are expressed transiently by selected neuronal populations involved in homeostasis or reward. The light-sensitive channels are stimulated by light sources with a very high temporal and spatial control. Optogenetic activation of very small numbers of neurones can evoke complex behaviours in vivo. We will determine how specific neural populations influence food anticipation, the motivation to commence eating, food choice and meal termination.

John’s webpage
Leng lab webpage
Shipston lab webpage
Is food addiction real? Link
Everything you ever wanted to know about optogenetics link
Optogenetic activation of feeding link