I am interested in how genes influence metabolism. In dogs, selective breeding has resulted an unusual genetic architecture which makes mapping disease associated loci remarkably tractable with much smaller numbers than in human populations. We study pet dogs and use comparative genomics to identify genes that are responsible for determining obesity susceptibility in dogs and humans. The mechanism of action and physiological consequences of variants of interest are tested in the lab in cellular models, and at a whole-dog level by examining their effect on eating behaviour and physiology.
Our overall aim is to better understand how genes link to obesity in both dogs and humans, in order to reveal mechanistic links and identify targets to improve obesity prevention and treatment.
I am a veterinary surgeon with specialist clinical qualifications in small animal medicine. In 2013 I set up the GOdogs Project, investigating the genetics of obesity in dogs. I hold a University Lectureship in Systems Physiology at the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience and am affiliated with the Institute of Metabolic Science where I was based until late 2020. Our canine studies are carried out at the Dept. Veterinary Medicine.
A deletion in the canine POMC gene is associated with weight and appetite in obesity prone Labrador retriever dogs. Raffan E, Dennis RJ, O’Donovan CJ, Becker JM, Scott RA, Smith SP, Wood CJ, Conci E, Clements DN, Summers KM, German AJ, Mellersh CS, Arendt ML, Iyemere VPE, Söder J, Wernersson S, Andersson G, Lindblad-Toh K, Yeo GSH, O’Rahilly S. Cell Metabolism. 2016 May 10;23(5):893-900.
Development, factor structure and application of the Dog Obesity Risk and Appetite (DORA) questionnaire. Raffan E, Smith SP, O’Rahilly S, Wardle J. PeerJ 2015 Sep 29;3:e1278.
The coding sequence of POMC and obesity and appetite in Labrador retriever dogs. E Raffan, J. Becker, G.Yeo, S. O’Rahilly. The Lancet. 2017, Feb 26, 383:S86
The big problem: battling companion animal obesity. E. Raffan. Vet Rec. 2013 Sep 28;173(12):287-91. Full text
Founder effect in the Horn of Africa for an insulin receptor mutation that may impair receptor recycling. E. Raffan, M.A. Soos, N. Rocha, T. Tuthill, A.R. Thomasen, C.S. Hyden, J. Gregory, P. Hindmarsh, M. Dattani, E. Cochran, J. Al Kaabi, P. Gorden, I. Barroso, N. Morling, S. O’Rahilly, R.K. Semple. Diabetologia 54(5):1057-1065 May 2011 DOI