Rachel Batterham investigates obesity and the effect of appetite.
I try to understand obesity – how appetite and body weight are controlled. Obesity is a worldwide epidemic that is having a major impact on health.
If we learn more about it, we may be able to develop new treatments.
My work is so varied that there is no such thing as a typical day! I work in a lab, a university and hospital; meeting or communicating via phone and email with other scientists, students, technicians, other lab leaders, my collaborators, hospital doctors, nurses, study volunteers and patients.
My scientific research is split between studies in humans and studies of human obesity using mice. With the mice, we try to understand the processes that occur during weight gain – we change their diets and see what happens.
I also study normal and obese humans, trying to learn how appetite is regulated. These investigations involve many people – I design the trials, write to ethics committees to gain permission to do them and recruit the volunteers.
I’m also a consultant and have a clinic to treat obese patients. I teach students and junior doctors, and spend a great deal of time writing papers, reviewing grants and papers and giving national and international talks.
On a good day, I’ll discover something new or make a difference to a patient. Some experiments give results within hours, but others can take months or years. On a bad day, a paper that I’ve submitted to a scientific journal will be rejected. Or I’ll find out that I’m not going to get the research money I’ve applied for from a funding organisation.
Rachel Batterham, reader in diabetes, endocrinology and obesity, University College London
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