Professor Margaret Morris is chair and Head of Pharmacology, School of Medical 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. Her lab has worked extensively on the impact of maternal obesity on offspring metabolic and cardiovascular risk, and is currently exploring options for intervention. Recent work investigating the role of paternal obesity on the health of offspring 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? 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). More recently they are exploring the link between a poor diet and behaviour, and the role of the gut microbiome.