Dr Laura Dearden

University Position
Senior Research Associate


The aim of my research is to find out how obesity during pregnancy alters development of the offspring hypothalamus- an area of the brain that is essential for regulating food intake- and leads to increased food intake and obesity later in life. An understanding of the mechanisms at play during pregnancy will enable us to a) better advise individuals who have obesity during pregnancy and b) develop intervention strategies to stop the inter-generational transmission of obesity risk. I am particularly interested in the role of insulin, as this is one of the main factors altered in both the mother and baby during a pregnancy complicated by obesity. We are using mouse models to define how the increased insulin levels in a pregnancy with obesity alters hypothalamic development in the baby. We are also interested in epigenetic mechanisms such as miRNAs, that may underlie some of the permanent changes in gene and protein expression profiles in the brain.

Key Publications