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Professor of Pharmacology, UNSW Sydney

Professor Margaret Morris is chair of Pharmacology, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of NSW. She uses neuropharmacological approaches to explore underlying brain mechanisms in epilepsy, obesity, diabetes, and the link between obesity and high blood pressure.

She has developed models of voluntary high fat feeding in rat and mice. The impact of parental obesity and early childhood events has been a key focus of research, in studies examining the mechanisms underlying obesity, and the transmission of obesity across generations. Her lab has worked extensively on the impact of maternal obesity on offspring metabolic and cardiovascular risk, and is currently exploring options for intervention. The lab also investigates the role of paternal obesity on the health of offspring, and demonstrated that when rat fathers were fed a high fat diet to induce obesity and glucose intolerance, the resulting female offspring exhibited impaired glucose tolerance and insulin secretion as young adults (Nature, 2010).

Other major research questions Professor Morris explores is how does provision of a varied, energy rich diet override the regulatory control mechanisms that should maintain body weight? Current research is centred on the role of the gut-microbiome-brain axis in metabolic and behavioural responses to the western diet - enormously topical, important issues related to a major public health problem. The Morris lab showed that palatable high fat diet can ameliorate the behavioral effects of early life stress; notably voluntary exercise had similar benefits (Psychoneuroendocrinology 2010).


  • –present
    Professor of Pharmacology, Head of Pharmacology, UNSW