Science & Technology

Why do we get Fat – and how does it make us ill?

Professor Sir Stephen O'Rahilly FRS
3rd May 2018, 7:00pm

Obesity is a major and growing threat to global public health. In this talk Stephen O’Rahilly will focus on two broad questions. Firstly, in the face of modern “obesogenic” environment to which most of us are exposed, why do some people become obese while others remain lean. Is this purely down to conscious choices and are lean people in some way “morally superior”? Or is there some strong biological predisposition influencing a person’s risk of becoming obese? The evidence for such strong biological predisposition, what processes it influences, and what that will mean for changes in societal attitudes, treatment and prevention will be presented.

The extent to which obesity has adverse impact on health also varies enormously between individuals. Why, for example, do some severely obese people avoid developing diabetes, even into a late age, while other, only moderately overweight people, develop Type 2 diabetes quite young Professor O’Rahilly will describe how growing understanding of the biology of fat cells is providing new insights into how our bodies can deal with excess calories in a healthy or unhealthy way


About the Speaker

Stephen O’Rahilly graduated in Medicine from University College Dublin in 1981. From 1982 to 1991 he undertook postgraduate clinical and research training in general medicine, diabetes and endocrinology in London, Oxford and Harvard. In 1991 he obtained a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellowship and established his laboratory at the University  of  Cambridge.  In  1996  he  was  appointed  to  a newly created Chair of Metabolic Medicine and in 2002 to  the  Chair  of  Clinical  Biochemistry  and  Medicine  at  the University  of  Cambridge.  He  is  the  Co-Director  of  the Wellcome  Trust-MRC  Institute  of  Metabolic  Science  and Director of the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit. His research 52 has been concerned with the elucidation of the basic causes of obesity and Type 2 diabetes at a molecular level and the translation  of  those  discoveries  into  improved  diagnosis and  therapy  for  patients.  His  work  has  uncovered  several previously  unrecognised  genetic  causes  of  these  diseases including some that are amenable to specific treatment. He has won many awards for his work, including the Society for Endocrinology Medal and the Clinical Investigator Award of the  Endocrine  Society,  and  he  gave  the  Harveian  Oration of  the  Royal  College  of  Physicians,  London,  in  2016.  He is a also a member of several international  academies  and societies.  In  2013  he  was appointed  a  Knight  Bachelor  for services to medical research. He has a continuing commitment to clinical practice and the teaching of medical students, successfully mentoring  young  scientists  and clinician-scientists.


Menu for Supper

Chicken with Diane sauce with new potatoes and vegetables

Goat's cheese and red onion quiche (v)

Lemon tart

Fresh fruit salad

N.B. the Lit & Phil office have to inform venues of catering numbers approximately 7 days before an event so please make sure you book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.