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Gastrointestinal Function and Appetite Regulation

Our aim is to understand the role of the upper gastrointestinal tract and dietary nutrients in appetite regulation and also in digestive discomfort.

Obesity and recurring indigestion are common conditions—and they have significant health, economic and psychosocial implications. The Gastrointestinal Function and Appetite Regulation group has made major contributions in understanding these conditions and how nutrients interact with gastrointestinal (GI) function to regulate appetite, with overeating on the one hand and a lack of appetite on the other.  

Our research has established: 

  • Key roles for GI motor and hormone functions in energy intake regulation in humans.
  • That very small amounts of specific nutrients (e.g. fatty acids or amino acids) have major appetite-suppressant and glucose regulation effects.
  • That changes in GI function can occur in both high-fat diets and dietary restriction—discoveries that have wide-reaching implications for a better understanding of a range of intake-related conditions, such as obesity, indigestion and anorexia nervosa.
  • A key role of dietary factors—including meal size and dietary nutrient composition—for symptoms in recurring indigestion.

Using these exciting research findings, we can develop novel, nutrient-based therapeutic agents and use these for further study in obese and type 2 diabetic patients. We also want to investigate whether stimulation of different receptors in the gastrointestinal mucosa—by different nutrients—will enhance their combined effect to suppress energy intake and reduce blood glucose. We plan to will develop palatable forms of nutrient powders and drinks with a suitable shelf life, with the help of formulation scientists and food technologists. These can be used in both the laboratory, as well as in longer-term studies outside the laboratory. They can also be developed into a commercially viable form.

Lead researcher: Professor Christine Feinle-Bisset

Research team

Research support
  • Penelope Fitzgerald
  • Vida Bitarafan (PhD candidate)
  • Nada Cvijanovic (PhD candidate)
  • Christina Dallis (PhD candidate)
  • Rachel Elovaris (PhD candidate)
  • Gabriella Heruc (PhD candidate)
  • Sina Ullrich (PhD candidate)
  • Emily Baxendale (BHlthSci(Adv) candidate)
  • Benjamin Herbillon (Masters visiting student)
  • Zarnain Shah (MD visiting student)

Interested in undertaking a postgraduate research degree with us?

We offer exciting opportunities for researchers at the honours, masters and PhD levels. Our research degrees are open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, and range from basic sciences to clinical research. If you are interested in human health, consider furthering your research career with us.