Obesity Genetics Research Group Amsterdam is a collaboration between clinical/ molecular and functional researchers working on Obesity and associated health problems. The researchers share the ambition to tackle the increasing global obesity problem by exploring the underlying pathogenesis of obesity and translating the scientific results into daily practice with the ultimate aim to offer personalized medicine for affected individuals.

Obesity is a common disease, but only a small percentage of patients have a genetic disorder that causes their obesity. These patients can have mutations in the system that controls appetite and metabolism, the leptin-melanocortin pathway. The obesity is their main health problem.

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Founder: dr. M.M. van Haelst

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Obesity can also be a part of syndromes with intellectual disability or congenital anomalies, this is called ‘syndromic obesity’.

Since genetic testing obesity is not part of routine medical care and there is a lack of access to genetic testing in many countries, it is important to know which patients with obesity should receive genetic testing. We find that the highest diagnostic yield can be achieved in children with a very early-onset of obesity, whereas the diagnostic yield in bariatric surgery subgroups is relatively low. This year, we received the Publication Prize for best obesity related publication of 2018 from the Netherlands Association for the Study of Obesity. The prize was awarded for the article “Genetic obesity: next-generation sequencing results of 1230 patients with obesity” in the Journal of Medical Genetics.

Receiving the diagnosis is the first step for patients with rare genetic obesity disorders. After that, we hope to lead them towards personalized treatment. To achieve this, my research group has international collaborations studying the complete field of obesity treatment, from pharmacological therapy and bariatric surgery to psychological support in dealing with insatiable hunger.