Over 650 million people are obese today. Obesity is a prominent risk factor for cardio-metabolic complications, psychological disorders and certain cancers, and the rise of these complications worldwide is mainly driven by this disorder. Obesity is associated with a decrease of the quality of life and in its more severe forms shortens life expectancy up to 20 years. The direct costs of obesity are $147 billion in adults and $14.3 billion in children annually in the United States, corresponding to 9.1% of the total annual health care expenditures. Obesity has proven difficult to treat, and prevention has been advocated as the best strategy for curbing the obesity epidemic. It is a complex heritable disorder (40-75% of obesity susceptibility is attributed to genetic factors) in constant interplay with environmental conditions.

Obesity remains a mysterious disease, and only a modest fraction of the genetic component has been elucidated, mainly in populations of European ancestry. Our vision is to contribute to a better understanding of the etiology of this exceptionally complex disorder, in order to design more efficient and personalized obesity prevention and treatment programs in Canada and around the world. Curbing the tide of obesity is also crucial to reducing the incidence of obesity-associated complications. 

Our research program includes the following areas:

1) Gene identification in diverse ethnic groups using high-throughput technology and metabolic traits outside of the box (e.g. leanness, variations of body mass index across time, weight loss in response to hypo-caloric diet)

2) Gene x environment interactions (using the more recent methodological developments such as quantile regression or gene-environment wide interaction studies)

3) Epigenetics to investigate the mechanisms that turn off obesity genes

4) Evolutionary genetics to understand how the human genome has accumulated obesity and leanness predisposing gene variants

5) Systems biology and molecular physiology to dissect the mechanisms leading to excessive fat storage

6) Development of new methods and guidelines in bioinformatics, statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology

7) Knowledge synthesis and translational research to achieve evidence-based personalized prevention and medicine

8) Knowledge translation to highlight the more recent discoveries on obesity to both a professional audience and the general population.








This research program will contribute to the dissection of the genetic architecture of obesity, achieving a better understanding of the etiology of this disorder in diverse ethnicities and increasing the overall quality of methods and practices in the field. The identification of environmental risks that interact with predisposing genes, and the implementation of genetic information in clinics will lead to novel applications in preventive and curative medicine. The knowledge translation dimension of this program will also promote to the public and stakeholders a more enlightened attitude to the obese with a reduction in their experience of social and economic discrimination as well as a better understanding of the disease, which is essential to catch the train of personalized prevention and medicine.

A team of 65 highly qualified and dedicated members

A stimulating, high-quality collaborative research environment, focusing on translational medical applications and national and international level collaborations with some of the most influential scientists in the field

Access to the most recent high-throughput genomics platforms and large multiethnic cohorts

Active contribution to obesity networks and consortiums at the local (Centre for metabolism, obesity, and diabetes research at McMaster University), national (obesity Canada) and international (GIANT consortium) levels



Vázquez-Moreno M, Zeng H, Locia-Morales D, Peralta-Romero J, Asif H, Maharaj A, Tam V, Romero-Figueroa MDS, Sosa-Bustamante GP, Méndez-Martínez S, Mejía-Benítez A, Valladares-Salgado A, Wacher-Rodarte N; National Obesity Network Mexico, Cruz M, Meyre D. The melanocortin 4 receptor p.Ile269Asn mutation is associated with childhood and adult obesity in Mexicans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Dec 16.


Ehtesham S, Qasim A, Meyre D. Loss-of-function mutations in the melanocortin-3 receptor gene confer risk for human obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2019 Aug;20(8):1085-1092.


Tam V, Patel N, Turcotte M, Bossé Y, Paré G, Meyre D. Benefits and limitations of genome-wide association studies. Nat Rev Genet. 2019 Aug;20(8):467-484.


Wang DX, Kaur Y, Alyass A, Meyre D. A Candidate-Gene Approach Identifies Novel Associations Between Common Variants in/Near Syndromic Obesity Genes and BMI in Pediatric and Adult European Populations. Diabetes. 2019 Apr;68(4):724-732.


Kaur Y, Wang DX, Liu HY, Meyre D. Comprehensive identification of pleiotropic loci for body fat distribution using the NHGRI-EBI Catalog of published genome-wide association studies. Obes Rev. 2019 Mar;20(3):385-406.


Tam V, Turcotte M, Meyre D. Established and emerging strategies to crack the genetic code of obesity. Obes Rev. 2019 Feb;20(2):212-240.


Qasim A, Mayhew AJ, Ehtesham S, Alyass A, Volckmar AL, Herpertz S, Hinney A, Hebebrand J, Meyre D. Gain-of-function variants in the melanocortin 4 receptor gene confer susceptibility to binge eating disorder in subjects with obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2019 Jan;20(1):13-21.


Turcotte M, Abadi A, Peralta-Romero J, Suarez F, Reddon H, Gomez-Zamudio J, Burguete-Garcia AI, Cruz M, Meyre D. Genetic contribution to waist-to-hip ratio in Mexican children and adolescents based on 12 loci validated in European adults. Int J Obes (Lond). 2019 Jan;43(1):13-22.


Liu HY, Alyass A, Abadi A, Peralta-Romero J, Suarez F, Gomez-Zamudio J, Audirac A, Parra EJ, Cruz M, Meyre D. Fine-mapping of 98 obesity loci in Mexican children. Int J Obes (Lond). 2019 Jan;43(1):23-32.


Reddon H, Patel Y, Turcotte M, Pigeyre M, Meyre D. Revisiting the evolutionary origins of obesity: lazy versus peppy-thrifty genotype hypothesis. Obes Rev. 2018 Nov;19(11):1525-1543.

Search for citations for Dr. Meyre on PubMed


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McMaster University | Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1 

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