Today I would like to introduce you to the work of Dr. Jeffery Friedman. Jeffrey M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., is the Simpson Professor and HHMI investigator, Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, and director, Starr Center for Human Genetics, The Rockefeller University, New York, N.Y. In 1994 Jeffrey Friedman’s lab identified leptin, a hormonal signal made by the body’s fat cells that regulates food intake and energy expenditure and has powerful effects on reproduction, metabolism, other endocrine systems, and even immune function. His current research focuses on the genes and neural circuits that control food intake and body weight, and leptin’s mechanism of action and its relevance to the development of obesity (http://gustavus.edu/events/nobelconference/2010/friedman.php)
The research on leptin is ground breaking because it informs our understanding, biologically, of how body weight is regulated. His lab is trying to identify the biological molecular components and systems that regulate body weight, by defining the differences between lean and obese systems in individuals and how developmental, emotional, and environmental factors alter the function of this system. His research, including the subject represented in the talk linked below, suggest that the absence or diminished levels of the hormone leptin level are involved in the way that are body regulates food intake and body weight. In this absence the body does not know when it is "full" and eats with abandon as if it was in a state of starvation.
Now before you begin to say, “So it IS my own biology that has led to my obesity,” I must note to all of you, that his research includes a very, very small number of subjects (about 12), but is promising in uncovering some of the biological systems that are at the root of body weight regulation. I also need you to know that leptin therapy (for the subject that is part of his talk) is EXTREMELY expensive (costing hundreds of thousands of dollars just for the leptin treatment) because it is still only an experimental treatment, but it is promising and compelling research. He ends his lecture with advice for those overweight/obese. I hope you will learn more by listening to this video of his lecture. It is about an hour with a Q and A at the end.
Finally, Dr. Friedman invites all of us (including those who watch this lecture) to think more inclusively of images of body size. You can watch the video of Dr. Jeffrey Friedman here. I hope you will!
Stay strong on your journey!