Susanne la Fleur (b. 1972) has been appointed professor of Neurobiology of Energy Metabolism at the University of Amsterdam's Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA).
In recent years, the prevalence of obesity and diabetes has exploded to reach epidemic proportions. One of the leading causes of these metabolic disorders is excessive daily intake of fat and sugar. While the brain needs energy from nutrients to function, its capacity to store and produce energy is extremely limited, making it dependent on what is available in the bloodstream. To ensure a sufficient supply of energy, our brains stimulate us to eat. Besides this, the body also has a variety of metabolic tissues that can build up energy reserves, such as the liver and fatty tissue, which the brain is also able to influence. This key role in the regulation of eating behaviour and metabolism means the brain plays a pivotal part in the development of obesity and diabetes as well.
Susanne la Fleur carries out research into the connection between diet composition and the development of obesity and diabetes, studying the role of the brain in particular. In her new post, she will additionally focus on understanding how poor dietary composition and abnormal eating patterns affect different parts of the brain, and how the changes that are detected work to disrupt energy metabolism. By further intensifying translational research on nutrition, the brain and metabolism, she will be able to translate clinical problems into fundamental research questions, and vice versa.
La Fleur has worked as a neuroendocrinologist and principal investigator at the AMC-UvA's Endocrinology and Metabolism Department since 2008. Since 2016, she has additionally led a preclinical research group at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. She also teaches courses within the Bachelor's and Master's Medicine and Biomedical Sciences programmes at the UvA and is supervising several PhD candidates.
Dr La Fleur is the recipient of numerous research grants, including several from Technology Foundation STW and a €1.5 million Vici grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Earlier in her career, she also received a Vidi and a Veni grant (ZonMW). She was presented with the Novo Nordisk Award in 2002 by the Dutch Endocrinology Society (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Endocrinologie) and with the Alan N. Epstein Research Award from the international Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior in 2008.
Dr La Fleur will hold her inaugural lecture on Wednesday, 4 October 2017.