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I. Sadaf Farooqi

Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow

Professor of Metabolism and Medicine

Department of Clinical Biochemistry

Group members


Research Interests

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The long term goal of our research is to understand the molecular and physiological pathways involved in the regulation of human appetite and body weight. To this end, we use a number of complementary genetic strategies to study over 4000 patients we have recruited with the help of many international collaborators to the Genetics of Obesity Study (GOOS).


We have shown that mutations that effect the adipocyte-derived hormone leptin and its hypothalamic targets cause severe early onset obesity in 8% of the GOOS cohort. In addition to pursuing new candidate genes, we are using hypothesis free approaches including SNP-arrays and whole exome sequencing to identify novel rare genetic variants. We play a major role in the UK10K consortium which aims to identify rare variants in health and disease (


These approaches are leading to the discovery of novel obesity genes whose function we study using a number of molecular and cellular appraoches. In particular, we are developing the use of patient specific neural cell lines  derived from inducible pluripotent stem cells (obtained from fibroblasts) as a model system for investigating molecular mechanisms and for drug discovery.


We undertake physiological studies in cohorts of patients and volunteers to examine the role of the relevant molecules in eating behaviour, energy expenditure and peripheral metabolism. This integrated approach has allowed us to demonstrate the importance of specific molecular pathways  in the development of severe obesity which can be considered a neurobehavioural disease. In collaboration with Professor Paul Fletcher, we have a major interest in using functional MRI to study the pattern of brain activation involved in aspectsof eating behaviour, such as food reward and motivation.


To date, our work has allowed us to provide improved diagnostics for a range of obesity syndromes. We have been able to provide a mechanism based treatment for one of these disorders, congenital leptin deficiency, where we successfully treat patients from around the world. Our overall aim is to make a major contribution to the design of pharmacological, nutritional and behavioural interventions to benefit patients with severe obesity.


Our research is funded by the Wellcome Trust, MRC, NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, European Research Council, EU FP7 NEUROFAST and EUROCHIP and the Bernard Wolfe Endowment.


Selected Publications


Pearce LR, Atanassova N, Banton MC, Bottomley B, Van der Klaauw AA,  Revelli JP, Hendricks A, Keogh JM, Henning E, Doree D, Jeter-Jones S, Garg S, Bochukova EG, Bounds R, Ashford S, Gayton E, Hindmarsh PC, Shield JPH, Crowne E, Barford D, Wareham NJ, UK10K Consortium, O'Rahilly S, Murphy MP, Powell DR, Barroso I, Farooqi IS. (2013). KSR2 mutations are associated with obesity, insulin resistance and impaired cellular fuel oxidation. Cell, 2013.


Wheeler E, Huang N, Bochukova EG, Keogh JM, Lindsay S, Garg S, Henning E, Blackburn H, Loos RJ, Wareham NJ, O'Rahilly S, Hurles ME, Barroso I, Farooqi IS. (2013). Genome-wide SNP and CNV analysis identifies common and low-frequency variants associated with severe early-onset obesity. Nat Genet, 45(5):513-7. PMID: 23563609.


Doche ME, Bochukova EG, Su HW, Pearce LR, Keogh JM, Henning E, Cline JM, Saeed S, Dale A, Cheetham T, Barroso I, Argetsinger LS, O'Rahilly S, Rui L, Carter-Su C, Farooqi IS. (2012). Human SH2B1 mutations are associated with maladaptive behaviors and obesity. J Clin Invest, 122(12):4732-6. PMID: 23160192. PMCID: PMC3533535.


Hatoum IJ, Stylopoulos N, Vanhoose AM, Boyd KL, Yin DP, Ellacott KL, Ma LL, Blaszczyk K, Keogh JM, Cone RD, Farooqi IS, Kaplan LM. (2012). Melanocortin-4 receptor signalling is required for weight loss after gastric bypass surgery. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 97(6):E1023-31. PMID: 22492873. PMCID: PMC3387412.


Martinelli CE, Keogh JM, Greenfield JR, Henning E, van der Klaauw AA, Blackwood A, O'Rahilly S, Roelfsema F, Camacho-Hübner C, Pijl H, Farooqi IS. (2011). Obesity due to melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) deficiency is associated with increased linear growth and final height, fasting hyperinsulinemia, and incompletely suppressed growth hormone secretion. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 96(1):E181-8. PMID: 21047921.


Fletcher PC, Napolitano A, Skeggs A, Miller SR, Delafont B, Cambridge VC, Nathan PJ, Brooke A, O'Rahilly S, Farooqi IS, Bullmore ET. (2010). Distinct modulatory effects of satiety and sibutramine on brain responses to food imagesin humans: a double dissociation across hypothalamus, amygdala, and ventral striatum. J Neurosci, 30(43):14346-55. PMID: 20980590.


Hedbacker K, Birsoy K, Wysocki RW, Asilmaz E, Ahima RS, Farooqi IS, Friedman JM. (2010). Antidiabetic effects of IGFBP2, a leptin-regulated gene.

Cell Metab, 11(1):11-22. PMID: 20074524.


Bochukova EG, Huang N, Keogh J, Henning E, Purmann C, Blaszczyk K, Saeed S, Hamilton-Shield J, Clayton-Smith J, O'Rahilly S, Hurles ME, Farooqi IS. (2010). Large, rare chromosomal deletions associated with severe early-onset obesity.

Nature, 463(7281):666-70. PMID: 19966786.


Greenfield JR, Miller JW, Keogh JM, Henning E, Satterwhite JH, Cameron GS, Astruc B, Mayer JP, Brage S, See TC, Lomas DJ, O'Rahilly S, Farooqi IS. (2009). Modulation of blood pressure by central melanocortinergic pathways.

N Engl J Med, 360(1):44-52. PMID: 19092146.


Tan K, Pogozheva ID, Yeo GS, Hadaschik D, Keogh JM, Haskell-Leuvano C, O'Rahilly S, Mosberg HI, Farooqi IS. (2009). Functional characterization and structural modeling of obesity associated mutations in the melanocortin 4 receptor. Endocrinology, 150(1):114-25. PMID: 18801902. PMCID: PMC2732289.


Farooqi IS, Bullmore E, Keogh J, Gillard J, O'Rahilly S, Fletcher PC. (2007). Leptin regulates striatal regions and human eating behaviour. Science, 317(5843):1355. PMID: 17690262.


Farooqi IS, Wangensteen T, Collins S, Kimber W, Matarese G, Keogh JM, Lank E, Bottomley B, Lopez-Fernandez J, Ferraz-Amaro I, Dattani MT, Ercan O, Myhre AG, Retterstol L, Stanhope R, Edge JA, McKenzie S, Lessan N, Ghodsi M, De Rosa V, Perna F, Fontana S, Barroso I, Undlien DE and O'Rahilly S. (2007). Clinical and Molecular Genetic Spectrum of Congenital Leptin Receptor Deficiency. New Eng J Med, 356(3):237-47. PMID: 17229951. PMCID: PMC2670197.


IS Farooqi, JM Keogh, GS Yeo, EJ Lank, T Cheetham, S O'Rahilly. (2003). Clinical spectrum of obesity and mutations in the melanocortin 4 receptor gene.  N Engl J Med, 348(12):1085-95. PMID: 12646665.