Waljit Dhillo is a Professor in Endocrinology & Metabolism, Consultant Endocrinologist and an NIHR Senior Investigator. He is Head of Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Imperial College London (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/metabolism-digestion-reproduction/research/diabetes-endocrinology-metabolism/). He is also Director of Research for the Division of Medicine & Integrated Care at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He has been appointed as Dean of the NIHR Academy starting in September 2021.
He completed his medical training at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School, University of London in 1994. During this time he also completed an Intercalated BSc in Biochemistry (awarded First Class Honours) funded by the Medical Research Council. He then completed his general medical training in London Hospitals. In 1997 he joined the North West Thames Rotation in Diabetes and Endocrinology as a Specialist Registrar. During this time he completed a PhD on the area of novel neuropeptides regulating appetite as a Wellcome Trust Clinical Training Fellow at Imperial College with Professor Sir Steve Bloom FRS. In 2004 he was awarded a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinician Scientist Fellowship and appointed Clinical Senior Lecturer & Consultant in Diabetes & Endocrinology at Imperial College London. Following this he was awarded an NIHR Career Development Fellowship and promoted to Reader in 2009. In 2011 he was promoted to Professor in Endocrinology & Metabolism. In 2015 Professor Dhillo was awarded a prestigious NIHR Research Professorship.
Professor Dhillo’s research investigates novel aspects of endocrine control of obesity and reproductive function:
(i) Endocrine control of obesity
His research has focused on understanding the neuroendocrine mechanisms which are important in the regulation of food intake. The regulation of body weight is complex and requires control of both food intake and energy expenditure. Gut hormones can powerfully reduce appetite and increase energy expenditure. Professor Dhillo's research investigates the mechanisms by which gut hormones mediate their effect. Recently he has shown that administration of gut hormones to human volunteers can alter neuronal activity in brain reward areas which control food intake (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/sep/11/obesity-food-appetite-suppressant). He was awarded the Royal College of Physicians Linacre Medal for this work. These findings have identified CNS pathways which have potential as novel targets for the development of anti-obesity drugs.
(i) Endocrine control of reproductive function
Professor Dhillo’s recent pioneering translational research has identified kisspeptin as a novel therapeutic target for patients with infertility and NK3 receptor antagonists as a new treatment for post-menopausal flushing:
- Professor Dhillo has carried out the ‘first time into human’ studies of kisspeptin. He has shown that kisspeptin potently stimulates reproductive hormone release in human male and female volunteers. This work was awarded the American Endocrine Society Award for Excellence in Clinical Research and the British Society for Neuroscience Investigator Prize. Professor Dhillo has also shown that kisspeptin administration potently increased reproductive hormone release in women with infertility due to hypothalamic amenorrhea (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7945600.stm). Recently Professor Dhillo has shown for the first time in women with infertility that kisspeptin can be used safely and effectively in IVF treatment (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22935211). He was been awarded the Royal College of Physicians Goulstonian Lectureship and the Society for Endocrinology Medal for this work.
- Professor Dhillo investigated the effects of neurokinin B in humans and showed that it results in hot flush symptoms. Recent animals studies suggest that neurokinin B signalling within the hypothalamus may mediate menopausal-like flushing. Therefore he hypothesised that NK3R antagonists (which block neurokinin B signalling) could have potential as a novel treatment for menopausal flushing. He has shown for the first time that NK3R antagonists reduce menopausal symptoms by 73% in post-menopausal women with severe flushing. This work was published in The Lancet together with an Editorial (https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30886-3). This highlighted the potential clinical impact of these findings which could be practice changing as NK3R antagonists relieve hot flush symptoms without the risks associated with HRT (highlighted in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery (doi:10.1038/nrd.2017.102).
For this work the Dhillo team were awarded the 2018 Imperial College President's Medal for Outstanding Research Team.
Professor Dhillo is passionate about supporting clinical academic training. He has been Head of training for all Imperial College Academic Clinical Fellows and Clinical Lecturers (since 2005). He has been Training Lead for Imperial College Biomedical Research Centre since 2013. From 2015-2019 Professor Dhillo was Chair of the NIHR Infrastructure Training Forum overseeing and integrating doctoral training in 40 UK centres (>400 PhD students in programme across BRCs) and providing leadership for the 47 local training leads. In September 2021, he will take up the post of Dean of the NIHR Academy.
et al., 2021, Investigating the potential of clinical and biochemical markers to differentiate between functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea and polycystic ovarian syndrome: a retrospective observational study., Clin Endocrinol (oxf)
et al., 2021, Elinzanetant (NT-814), a Neurokinin 1,3 Receptor Antagonist, Reduces Estradiol and Progesterone in Healthy Women., J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Vol:106, Pages:e3221-e3234
et al., 2021, Kisspeptin modulates gamma-aminobutyric acid levels in the human brain, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol:129, ISSN:0306-4530, Pages:1-5
Abbara A, Clarke SA, Dhillo WS, 2021, Clinical Potential of Kisspeptin in Reproductive Health., Trends Mol Med
et al., 2021, Normal adrenal and thyroid function in patients who survive COVID-19 infection, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol:106, ISSN:0021-972X, Pages:2208-2220