A new research internship in Adiposity has been announced at the IFB. The internship will run from February 6th- March 31st, 2017 in Leipzig, Germany and is open to students of medicine and life and natural sciences, who are EU citizens. The application deadline is November 6th, 2016. Further information is available: http://www.ifb-adipositas.de/en/career/vacancies
Following a very successful congress in Gothenburg, we are pleased to remind you that the 24th European Congress on Obesity (ECO2017) will take place in the beautiful city of Porto from 17 to 20 May 2017.
A programme overview and list of topics can be viewed on the congress website. The call for symposia suggestions and abstract submissions will be issued in September 2016. We look forward to welcoming you to Porto, one of the most popular city break destinations in Europe.
We are pleased to announce that the latest issue of Obesity Facts, 2016 issue 4 is available online. View the issue on the OFA website.
We are delighted to announce that the Impact Factor of OBESITY FACTS has improved further. The 2015 Impact Factor of OBESITY FACTS is 2.400, compared to 2.245 in 2014.
European Obesity Summit 2016 Speaker Spotlight Interview:
We would like to learn about your work. Tell us why leptin resistance is the topic everyone is talking about!
“Leptin resistance is a disease model that conceptually resembles that of insulin resistance, drawing a parallel between obesity and type 2 diabetes. Leptin resistance explains the kind of obesity that does not derive from leptin deficiency. The later can be cured by leptin injections, just as insulin deficiency can be managed with insulin injections. However, insulin injections do not cure insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.”
MooDFOOD is a multidisciplinary consortium involving 13 organizations in 9 European countries, using a unique integrative approach which combines expertise in nutrition, consumer behaviour, psychiatry and preventive psychology.
New Investigators United Best Thesis Prize Winner:
Meet Eveline Dirinck
Eveline, it’s great to meet with you. Congratulations on winning the highly competitive 2016 EASO New Investigators Best Thesis prize. Please help us learn more about your thesis and present research interests…
Reflections on the European Congress on Obesity:
A Patient Perspective
“I have been privileged to have attended four European Obesity Congresses. Over the years I have observed and have been part of the development and expansion of patient involvement in the Congress experience.”
-Ken Clare, EASO Patient Council Steering Committee
Patient Council Spotlight:
We are delighted to welcome a new member representing Italy to the EASO Patient Council. Marina was kind enough to participate in an interview.
2016 EASO Training the Trainers Summer School:
Reflections from Abd Tahrani
“I was recently selected by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) to participate in the first EASO Train The Trainer (TTT) course, which took place between 26th and 29th June, 2016 in the beautiful town of Divonne-Les-Bains, France just across the border from Switzerland, near Geneva.”
Locations Announced for ECO 2018 and ECO 2019
EASO looks forward to hosting the 25th annual European Congress on Obesity (ECO 2018) from 23-26 May 2018 in beautiful Vienna.
In 2019 we are delighted to host the ECO in Glasgow.
Please check the EASO website for dates and more information coming soon.
We are pleased to announce that the USA Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) has released its new online library of stock images that showcase people with obesity in a positive light. This new gallery contains 500 images that help refocus the perception of obesity, and will have approximately 4,000 free stock images online by 2017.
The Austrian Obesity Society Annual Meeting will be held in Innsbruck 21-22 October 2016. Join scientists, physicians and other health care professionals from across Europe for this important meeting, which will be held in German.
Dear colleagues and Congress participants, ladies and gentlemen,
Obesity is a major challenge for our communities and health systems, particularly in light of the numerous comorbidities involved with this chronic disease. The aim of the 2016 annual meeting of the Austrian Obesity Society is to share new scientific knowledge about pathophysiological explanatory mechanisms and current preventive and therapeutic measures on obesity – in practice-relevant form. For talks and conference contributions, we were fortunate to attract experts from across Austria and Germany. In cooperation with the Austrian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, we have designed a session on endocrinological aspects of obesity, including the effects on bone metabolism. classical cardiometabolic comorbidities of obesity, as well as psychological aspects of the disease. Sleep apnea syndrome and heart failure will also be covered through Congress presentations.
With respect to the therapeutic possibilities there will be a presentation of current data on drug treatment options, the importance of exercise programs, the effectiveness of diets and formula diets and bariatric surgery will be reviewed. The description of the care situation following bariatric surgery will crucially include the perspective of the patient. A special focus is afforded nutritional therapy, especially the influence of SSBs in the development of overweight and obesity in children, adolescents and adults. We will include discussion of the possibilities and limitations of non-drug treatment of dyslipidemia and the importance of diversity in the diet.
In basic research we will present lectures on the topics of insulin effects in the central nervous system, gastrointestinal regulatory mechanisms and the role of adipose tissue. We intend to use this program to offer interesting professional education across specialties and to provide a discussion platform for scientists and health care professionals. We look forward to your review of the program: please refer to the supplement. Online registration can be found here: http://www.adipositas-austria.org
Dr. Johanna Brix Prim. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Monika Lechleitner (Erster Sekretär der ÖAG) (Präsidentin der ÖAG)
Announcement: EASO looks forward to hosting the 25th annual European Congress on Obesity (ECO) from 23-26 May 2018 in beautiful Vienna.
In 2019 we are delighted to host the ECO in Glasgow. Please stay tuned for dates and more information coming soon.
I have been privileged to have attended four European Obesity Congresses. Over the years I have observed and have been part of the development and expansion of patient involvement in the Congress experience.
The first year of my involvement, I was invited to speak at the 2013 ECO in Liverpool, which is my home city. I was invited to speak about my experiences as a patient as part of the DORIAN project seminar. The feedback I received following the event was really positive and I made some great personal connections. I was also fortunate to have been able to attend the pre-Congress bariatric surgery session. The speakers’ dinner that year was held at the Liverpool Football Club, which had a strong global reputation among attendees.
2014’s Congress was held in Sofia, Bulgaria. I was delighted to see many more members of patient communities attending. Friendships were made and bonds were forged. We held an organizing meeting where we participated along with several key European health professionals. The conference centre that year was a daunting Soviet era building. We spent time together and discussed developing a formal organisation. The seeds of a European patient community were sown there in Sofia.
2015 saw us travelling to Prague for the Congress. Prague is a beautiful and historic city. We were hosted by Patient Council member, Alexandra Fraisova. We held our first formal Patients Council meeting. As I looked through the photographs I took at the event – it brings back happy memories.
In 2016, the European Obesity Summit was held in Gothenburg, Sweden, where we were hosted by Patient Council Steering Committee member Christina Fleetwood and Swedish Patient Council member Orley Andreasson and his national association HOBBS. This most recent meeting saw the Patient Council reach a new level of engagement. Members took part in the opening plenary session, the media master classes and several formal sessions. We had a Patient Council lounge where we could spend time together and network between sessions and meetings, and we were delighted to welcome new members to our community. I spoke with many professional attendees and exhibitors at the conference, and the Patient Council is now truly a central part of the European Obesity Congress process.
Although it is only August, plans are already being made for our attendance at ECO 2017 in beautiful Porto, Portugal. I would like to extend thanks to Sheree Bryant, Euan Woodward and Tommy Visscher for their professional and personal support. We also like to thank the Executive of EASO for their belief and investment in the Patients Council.
Gijs Goossens obtained his PhD on the metabolic and hemodynamic effects of the renin-angiotensin system in obesity in 2006 (Maastricht University, The Netherlands), and has worked as a visiting scientist at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Oxford (UK). He is currently holding a position as an Associate Professor at the Department of Human Biology, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University. The overarching goal of his translational research is to provide an evidence base for future interventions to prevent and treat obesity-related chronic metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. His research line is focused on elucidating the role of adipose tissue dysfunction in the pathophysiology of obesity-related insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes in humans. In particular, the interplay between tissue oxygenation, inflammation and metabolism is studied by integrating innovative clinical in vivo methodology to phenotype humans in detail, and mechanistic human cell culture experiments to better understand underlying mechanisms. For his work, Dr. Goossens has received several prestigious awards, including the Young Investigator Award in Clinical Research from the European Association for the Study of Obesity (2011) and the Rising Star Award from the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (2014). He has been a Board Member of EASO’s New Investigators United between 2010-2016, and has been President of the Netherlands Association for the Study of Obesity (NASO) since 2014.
Gijs, great to speak with you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood? I understand that there were some pivotal life events that led to your interest in science.
As a child at primary school, I spent most of my free time playing football with friends. Actually, I have played football at a competitive level for about 25 years, which has been great fun and has also contributed to developing “people skills”. I have also enjoyed running. At secondary school, I started to realize that human biology is exciting. It was already during these years that I became interested in health; my grandmother was suffering from type 2 diabetes and related complications, including diabetic retinopathy. In fact, this was also the topic of one of my biology projects, and a local ophthalmologist took the time to show me pictures and explain how this particular complication develops and is diagnosed, which was absolutely fascinating. Since I enjoyed sports and also had become really interested in general health and well being, I decided to study Health Sciences, with a specialization Movement Sciences, at Maastricht University in The Netherlands (1997-2001).
I have always been impressed by the huge amount of information obtained by scientists, but at the same time I became aware that even more questions remain to be answered. As a graduate student, I worked on a research project addressing the importance of intramyocellular lipids, measured using in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS), in glucose homeostasis in humans. Thereafter, I was convinced that I wanted to pursue a PhD. However, I decided to first acquire more experience with metabolic research abroad, and had the opportunity to work together with two excellent scientists, Profs. Keith Frayn and Fredrik Karpe, on adipose tissue physiology at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes and Metabolism (OCDEM), University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom (2001-2002). This really boosted my interest in adipose tissue biology in obesity. Thereafter, I started a PhD project at Maastricht University, and completed my thesis, entitled ‘The renin-angiotensin system in obesity: metabolic and hemodynamic effects’, under supervision of Profs. Ellen Blaak, Marleen van Baak and Wim Saris in 2006. As a post-doctoral fellow (2006-2011), I became even more fascinated in metabolic impairments in obesity, and the importance of adipose tissue dysfunction and the cross-talk with other key metabolic organs herein, and continued to perform human in vivo studies in this field. I worked as an Assistant Professor for about five years (2011-2016), combining research and teaching, and was appointed as an Associate Professor at the Department of Human Biology at Maastricht University earlier this year.
What are the most exciting recent developments in the field of adipose tissue biology?
The number of studies in the field of adipose tissue biology has increased exponentially over the last 15 years. This shift in research focus is primarily driven by the tremendous increase in the prevalence of obesity and related chronic diseases, and the importance of the adipose organ herein. Intriguingly, expansion of adipose tissue does not necessarily translate directly into increased metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk. A proportion of individuals with obesity seem to be relatively protected against worsening of metabolic health, suggesting that adipose tissue dysfunction rather than the absolute amount of fat mass determines cardiometabolic risk. Although adipose tissue dysfunction in obesity is currently recognized as a key factor in the pathophysiology of obesity-related chronic diseases, the trigger that instigates an impaired functioning of this tissue is not yet fully understood. Given its central role in cardiometabolic health, it is not surprising that adipose tissue, in addition to other key metabolic organs, has become an important therapeutic target. In our laboratory, we investigate the effects of different interventions (e.g. exercise, dietary and pharmacological interventions) to restore adipose tissue function and improve metabolic health in obese and prediabetic humans, with healthy ageing as the ultimate goal. To accomplish this, innovative human in vivo techniques, analyses of adipose and skeletal muscle biopsies, and mechanistic human cell culture experiments are integrated.
You have been a member of the NIU Board for six years. Please help us learn more about NIU and about your work on the board.
New Investigators United (NIU), which was founded in 2005, is part of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), and is the communication platform for all new professionals working in this exciting field. NIU aims to facilitate the networking of new European scientists, provide an arena for the exchange of ideas and best practices between experts and experts-to-come, and improve opportunities for future collaborations. Every year, NIU Board members organize a scientific session, which is part of the official program of the annual European Congress on Obesity, followed by a social and networking get-together with drinks and hors d’ oeuvres. During the NIU session, there usually are two or three presentations by candidates for the NIU Best Thesis Award as well as two presentations by established scientists in the field of obesity. It is great to see that the number of people attending the NIU sessions have substantially increased during the last few years; now we see more than 150 people – both new and senior investigators – in the audience.
In addition to organizing the NIU session during ECOs, the NIU Board has to date organized two NIU Summer Schools, which took place in Portugal in 2015 and 2016. The aim of this intimate and selective training is development of knowledge and key skills in the field of obesity research. The program includes lectures from international experts on multiple aspects of obesity, practical trainings (e.g. assessment of food intake), 5-min pitches by delegates who present themselves and their research, and other interesting workshops (e.g. grant applications, career development). It has been a privilege and pleasure to serve as a Member of the NIU Board from 2010-2016, and I would like to thank the members of the NIU Board and EASO’s Executive Board for a great collaboration. I am confident that the new team will bring new energy and good ideas to continue the important work for EASO’s new investigators.
Aside from your professional interests, what are your hobbies and interests?
In my free time, I like to spend time with my family and friends. My wife and I have two beautiful daughters, Saar (almost 3 year old) and Fem (1 year old), and we obviously devote a lot of time to them. Both are very energetic – just like their father – and it is great to see how they develop while growing up. I very much enjoy running and cycling, since it gives me energy, makes me feel good and contributes to a positive mindset. Since I have limited spare time these days, I usually go for a 45-min high-intensity run or a longer-distance run a few times per week, which is more time-efficient than cycling. I am convinced that exercising regularly also helps you remain disciplined, which can be valuable in a demanding work environment. Although I am ambitious, I think it is important to put your work in perspective. I feel that focusing too much on your career may even interfere with long-term success, no matter how counterintuitive that might sound. Therefore, I try to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life, although this is not always easy.
Please tell us about your future career plans:
I want to continue to grow as a scientist and further develop my own independent line of research, together with the great team of people working with me in Maastricht. Furthermore, I would like to collaborate more closely with leading scientists internationally, for example on EU projects. I hope to motivate and inspire young researchers, because I truly believe that one can make much more progress if you love what you are doing. Although we have learned an enormous amount in a relatively short time, the complexity of adipose tissue presents numerous challenges and at the same time provides the potential of ample therapeutic opportunities. There is much more to discover, and I will do my utmost best to contribute in a significant way to the development of more effective prevention and treatment strategies to fight obesity and its complications.
I was recently selected by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) to participate in the first EASO Train The Trainer (TTT) course, which took place between 26th and 29th June, 2016 in the beautiful town of Divonne-Les-Bains, France just across the border from Switzerland, near Geneva.
The event brought together 32 specialists in the fields of childhood and adult obesity from across Europe and included participants from a variety of professional backgrounds: dieticians, surgeons, psychologists, physical activity experts and other HCPs; academics, patients, health communications specialists, public health specialists and of course primary care clinicians and obesity specialists. The course offered participants a unique environment to interact with peers across disciplines, and to meet and hear from senior faculty members who are leaders in the field of obesity, and with experts from the WHO and Public Health England who deal with policy makers on regular basis. Workshops included training on how to communicate with policy makers, how to shape and change policy and how to address the stigma associated with obesity.
On the first day, after a short drive from Geneva airport and a nice lunch, we were welcomed to the course by EASO president-elect Nathalie Farpour-Lambert, whose motivation, enthusiasm and charisma were infectious throughout the event. After a round of introductions, we heard an enlightening talk from patient Christina Fleetwood, who is a steering committee member of the EASO Patient Council, about her lifelong experiences with obesity and how she has viewed and felt about her interactions with health care professionals throughout her life. Then we had two talks about how to address obesity stigma and how to educate other health care professionals about obesity.
On the second day we were greeted in the morning by a talk delivered by the ever so knowledgeable Nathalie Farpour-Lambert, outlining the case for why obesity should be considered and treated as a chronic disease. This was followed by a nice talk addressing the health and economic impact of obesity worldwide and other tools which can be important to utilise when discussing obesity with policymakers.
After a short break, we spent the second half of the morning learning from eminent speakers about their experiences and what they learnt from previous interactions with policymakers and how we can make a convincing argument that enhance our chances of changing policy successfully. We finished the morning with a great example from Austria showing us how to set up a successful school intervention. The afternoon started with a talk regarding physical activity and how we can enhance and increase activity levels among patients with obesity, followed by an interactive session with the faculty regarding how to set up successful interventions that result in true change in policy. We finished with two excellent and informative interactive sessions addressing motivational interviewing techniques (which are essential tools for any health care professional addressing the health of patients with obesity) and how to set up a centre of obesity management (COM).
During the first half of the third day we had an informative talk about the management of obesity in adults and we had an example of a successful internet-based weight management intervention from Finland followed by an inspirational workshop regarding the use of social media. After lunch we had a fantastic workshop in which each participant had to choose an intervention or change in policy that we intend to implement in our professional lives and we were asked to discuss these project strategies in small groups and with senior faculty. Using multiple resources provided to us by the faculty, we had to come up with a clear plan, the logical incremental steps and timelines to help us achieve our objectives and we are now working on these projects in our professional settings across Europe. We will be reporting our progress back to faculty on a regular basis.
The final day was exciting as we had a little journey to the beautiful French town of Evian where we attended the hydration for health (H4H) conference. This was quite an interesting event, particularly in the afternoon when there was a session regarding hydration and obesity.
This course has several advantages. The format, much of which was practical rather than lecture style, allowed us to explore topics in depth and to apply the skills learnt to practice. The course also addressed several aspects that usually do not receive enough attention during training, such as how to convert our ideas to interventions and how to communicate with policymakers.
Training took place in a relaxed setting with many opportunities for networking among attendees and faculty during the practical sessions, the lovely meals or during the breaks between sessions, which always had plenty of hot and cold beverages and delicious cakes (yes, cakes, in an obesity meeting! The grand finale was a reception and a group dinner with the H4H delegates in a beautiful castle on this final night of the meeting. And it was not only science, communication and leadership skills what we learnt, we also gained new skills in a practice salsa dancing lesson and a late evening golf practice session, which were great examples how increasing physical activity can be fun!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the TTT and I strongly recommend that my colleagues and friends in the field of obesity apply. During this course I gained new knowledge, developed new skills, forged new collaborations, and met new friends. None of this would have been possible without support from EASO and without the great efforts and hard work of Nathalie Farpour-Lambert, Hermann Toplak, and Euan Woodward. So a very big thank you to all of them on organising a very successful event. I look forward to meeting my new friends from TTT online in our new TTT alumni LinkedIn and Facebook groups! I’m sure colleagues will meet again at future EASO Congresses and events.
Greetings Ana. It was good to meet you at the European Congress on Obesity in Gothenburg. Please tell us a bit about yourself; where are you from, where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I was born in Lisbon, and grew up in Portugal until my early twenties, when I left for New York to study at the Rockefeller University at the turn of the second millennium. Two years before, I lived in Paris for a year while conducting part of my undergraduate studies in mathematics. I moved back to Portugal 2.5 years ago to set up my lab at the Gulbenkian Institute. Time flies! One year ago I married a charming Dutchman and moved to an apartment in a lovely historical building right at the beach. We just adopted a big, adorable puppy dog!
Our readers will enjoy learning about your favourite activities, hobbies and interests outside of your professional work:
In addition to my bench work, I am also committed to reaching the public. Scientific education for the general public is the most important means of preventing stigmatization and prejudice against patients with obesity.
My participation in the Media Masterclass workshop at the European Obesity Summit in June 2016, involvement with patient organizations and various local TV shows in Portugal, as well as art projects that involve the science, such the Nexus Project at the KunstKraftwerkLiepzig, in Liepzig,Germany are important parts of my work – and my community activities.
I love to cycle! I have been a cycling commuter since my days as a student in NYC, and now I bike to work everyday along the beach.
Where I live there are few bike commuters and a big car culture, even though the weather is great. Cycling is a very efficient way to get vitamin D, exercise, and reduce my carbon print. I´m sort of a bike activist! It´s my hobby, and it takes time and engages me with the local community. Often it is like talking to a wall, but I am persistent!
We would like to learn about your work. Tell us why leptin resistance is the topic everyone is talking about!
Leptin resistance is a disease model that conceptually resembles that of insulin resistance, drawing a parallel between obesity and type 2 diabetes. Leptin resistance explains the kind of obesity that does not derive from leptin deficiency. The later can be cured by leptin injections, just as insulin deficiency can be managed with insulin injections. However, insulin injections do not cure insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. Likewise, leptin injections do not cure leptin resistance in most cases of obesity. Thus finding biological ways to get around leptin resistance in the brain, would pave the way for the development of anti-obesity therapies.
Please tell us about your lab and current research projects.
I have 6 great female scientists working with me. My graduate student Roksana Pirsgalska, who is a fellow of the MIT/Portugal PhD Program, pushed forward a series of results which were recently published in Cell. We discovered that sympathetic (SNS) neuro-adipose junctions mediate lipolysis and fat mass reduction, and are a peripheral effector arm of leptin action in the brain. We discovered that local stimulation of SNS inputs onto white adipose tissues (WAT) induces fat break-down and its consequent depletion. Thus targeted pharmacologic activation of SNS inputs onto WAT could represent a new strategy for the induction of fat loss that would circumvent central leptin resistance as well as the challenges of drug delivery to the brain, across the blood brain barrier. In one of our projects we aim to identify drug targets in SNS neurons innervating WAT, which are suitable for an anti-obesity therapy. We are also modifying potent anti-obesity drugs so that they target these neurons, and become suitable for long term use, and sustained weight loss without severe side effects.
How did your original interest in the field develop, and how did you come to focus on obesity?
I became fascinated by the topic of obesity when I first heard a talk by Jeffrey Friedman before he came to be my postdoctoral mentor at the Rockefeller University. This was the first time I heard about Jeff´s discovery of the hormone leptin – a breakthrough discovery that changed the way we think about obesity. Jeff´s discovery of leptin transformed obesity into a biological problem, rather than a lack of will power relating to food intake and exercise. The way he then explained the molecular and biological basis of obesity was truly a revalation to me, creating a new reality that is still unknown to many patients and health care providers. Jeff has been a role model and a valuable guide along with my PhD advisor Leslie Vosshall. Both are unique and interesting personalities who create science that can change society. For me, they have been really inspiring.
Before receiving a PhD in neurobiology working with Leslie Vosshal at New York’s Rockefeller University, Dr Ana Domingos studied mathematics at the Universty of Lisbon. She started her obesity research career in 2006 at Rockefeller as a postdoctoral associate of Jeffrey Friedman, who discovered the hormone Leptin. As a postdoc, Dr Ana Domingos used optogenetic tools to identify a neuronal circuit in the brain mediating the reward value of sugar. She discovered that Leptin has a regulatory effect on this circuit, influencing how much one likes sugar. In the fall of 2013, she started the obesity lab at The Gulbenkian Institute in her native Portugal. Domingos´ lab was the first to visualize the long-time conjectured peripheral neuron-adipose junctions in the adipose tissue. Furthermore, her lab demonstrated that localized activation of these peripheral neurons is sufficient for lipolysis and fat mass reduction. Thus direct and targeted pharmacologic activation of sympathetic inputs to adipose tissues could represent a novel strategy for the induction of fat loss, and a new anti-obesity therapy that would circumvent the challenges of drug delivery to the brain.
These findings were published in Cell, and were widely disseminated in Nature and Science as well as Cell Press. Dr Ana Domingos has received widespread international recognition, including awards from The Human Frontiers Science Program and the European Molecular Biology Organization.
Following a very successful congress in Gothenburg, we are pleased to remind you that the 24th annual European Congress on Obesity (ECO2017) will be held in the beautiful city of Porto, 17-20 May, 2017.
A programme overview and list of topics can be viewed on the congress website. The call for symposia suggestions and abstract submissions will be issued in September 2016. We look forward to welcoming you to Porto.