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Cambridge Biosciences DTP PhD Programme


Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science 

Research theme: Bioscience for an integrated understanding of health


Before starting her PhD in 2018, Orla completed a BSc in Biological Sciences at Durham University then moved to University College London for an MSc in Biosciences: Biology of Ageing and Age-related Disease. Outside of the lab Orla is an advocate for building relationships between academia, industry and policy makers to improve global health. She also leads a sustainable fashion project to increase awareness of the ethical and environmental impact of the fashion industry, is part of the Cambridge University Dancesport Team and is a keen outdoor swimmer.


Project Title:

Central signaling pathways of the INSL5/RXFP4 axis. 

Project Summary:

The number of people living with obesity has tripled worldwide since 1975 with serious implications for public health. Obesity is a consequence of food intake exceeding energy expenditure. Efforts are therefore being made to better understand the physiological mechanisms governing food intake. Peptide hormones secreted from the gastrointestinal tract modulate food intake via interactions with the peripheral and central nervous systems. My research focuses on the central actions of the gut peptide hormone insulin-like peptide 5 (INSL5) and its receptor relaxin/insulin-like family peptide receptor 4 (RXFP4), which have previously been implicated in regulating feeding behaviour. Through this research I aim to elucidate the mechanisms of central INSL5/RXFP4 action in the control of food intake and food preference. Expanding understanding of INSL5-RXFP4 action is essential due to the identification of this ligand-receptor pair as a potential therapeutic target for obesity and other food intake-related disorders.


Key publications: 

Pryor, R., et al. (2019). Host-Microbe-Drug-Nutrient Screen Identifies Bacterial Effectors of Metformin Therapy. Cell: 178(6) pp.1299-1312 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.08.003 

Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

Professor Frank Reimann and Professor Fiona Gribble

Staff Photo

Contact Details

Job Titles

PhD Student