Broad researchers study genetic variation to uncover genetic determinants of body weight. Through this work, they aim to find individual genes that play key roles in body shape and size, as the proteins these genes help produce could become targets for future drug development.
Obesity and its complications are major threats to future human health. Currently, there are no safe and effective long-term treatments to curb the global obesity epidemic. There are many reasons why some people become obese and others remain lean, and why fat becomes stored in different parts of their bodies, but the genes they inherit play a crucial role.
Institute member Joel Hirschhorn uses human genetics and genomics to identify genes that influence common diseases and quantitative traits, including obesity. Hirschhorn leads a large international consortium (GIANT) that has discovered almost all of the common genetic variants that are known to influence human height and weight.