Press release

Dundee experts to probe links between obesity and diabetes

Published on 2 June 2020

University of Dundee experts will attempt to transform the way obesity is treated as part of a €16 million project.

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Academics from the University’s School of Medicine will examine the links between obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as the effectiveness of weight loss in treating the condition, following the launch of a major international research consortium.

The Dundee team will form a key part of the SOPHIA consortium, which includes 29 leading partners from academia and industry in 12 countries. Around 650 million people around the world are affected by obesity and University researchers have been awarded €1 million to help deliver this project.

Professor Ewan Pearson, an expert in Population Health and Genomics at Dundee, said, “There are 200 known complications of obesity, but currently we cannot predict who is more vulnerable to developing any of these.

“SOPHIA will help identify clinically meaningful subpopulations of patients living with obesity to help match suitable treatments with patients, with our work specifically focusing on those with type 2 diabetes.

“Another key part of our work will be data analysis, examining how patients with type 1 diabetes are affected by obesity, and how this impacts upon their wider health.”

SOPHIA is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) - a joint undertaking of the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), the Obesity Action Coalition, and T1D Exchange.

SOPHIA will also investigate health outcomes in people with obesity who have type 1 diabetes, with the project scheduled to conclude in May 2025.

“Our mission within SOPHIA is to enable healthcare professionals to reliably predict the complications of obesity and who will respond to treatment,” said Professor Carel le Roux, coordinator of SOPHIA and obesity physician at the Diabetes Complications Research Centre at University College Dublin.

SOPHIA Project Leader Dr Marianne Ølholm Larsen Grønning of Novo Nordisk, added, “Obesity is a complex, chronic disease and there is still a lot we do not know, both about the biology of the disease itself and how treatment can improve the lives of patients with obesity. SOPHIA is an important step towards understanding obesity better. The collaboration between academia, industry and associations promises strong and unique results.”


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489