Sadaf Farooqi is a Clinician Scientist distinguished for her discoveries of the fundamental mechanisms that control human weight regulation and their disruption in obesity. She found that the hormone leptin and its target the melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) regulate the drive to eat and the preference for rewarding and high fat food, revealing the biological basis of innate behaviours previously thought to be under voluntary control.
By precisely connecting molecular mechanisms to clinical phenotypes, her research explained how changes in weight affect blood pressure by altering leptin-melanocortin signalling, thereby explaining the association between obesity and hypertension.
Her identification and characterisation of multiple obesity syndromes has led to genetic testing being adopted worldwide, transforming the lives of families suspected of causing severe obesity in children through neglect. Her research has directly enabled life-saving treatment for some people with severe obesity, therapies that are now licensed and widely available. Her research into MC4R mutations that protect against obesity and into the genetic basis of thinness has opened up possibilities for the design of new weight loss treatments.
Professor of Metabolism and Medicine, Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Biochemistry and molecular biology
Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
Health and human sciences
Clinical endocrinology, Medicine, clinical studies, Molecular medicine
Obesity, metabolism, human physiology and behaviour
Croonian Medal and Lecture
For their seminal discoveries regarding the control of human body weight, resulting in novel diagnostics and therapies, which improve human health (with Sir Stephen O'Rahilly FMedSci FRS).