US-Ireland researchers to examine how RYGB impacts eating and drinking

Updated: Jul 28


Researchers from Florida State University (FSU), the University College Dublin and Ulster University are participating in a study examining how gastric bypass affects eating and drinking in patients before and after the surgery. The research collaboration is made possible through the US-Ireland R&D Partnership, an international research collaboration initiative between the United States, Ireland and Northern Ireland. The project comes with US$1.68 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health.


“My collaborators, Dr Carel le Roux at the University College Dublin and Drs Barbara Livingstone and Ruth Price at Ulster University, are terrific,” said Dr Alan Spector, a distinguished research professor with the FSU Program in Neuroscience and the Department of Psychology. “Each of us brings complementary and unique expertise and resources to the project in an effort to understand if and how gastric bypass affects food selection and patterns of eating and drinking and whether such behavioural changes contribute to the long-term health benefits of the surgery.”

The team’s work contributes to an ongoing global scientific effort to understand the beneficial effects of gastric bypass in the hopes that effective non-surgical interventions to combat obesity can eventually be developed, explained Spector.


The team is using its research to identify the characteristics of patients who are more likely to benefit from bariatric surgery, as well as those who are expected to need more support on their weight-loss journey.

le Roux, the principal investigator for the project’s Ireland component, said Florida State boasts some of the best animal-model researchers studying food intake after bariatric surgery, making the university an obvious choice for the collaboration: “For us, as researchers at University College Dublin, we wanted specifically to partner with Florida State University and Ulster University because they were the leaders within this field.”

Spector said the collaboration has afforded him the opportunity to apply some of the principles utilised in animal-model research to human science, a scientific endeavour he has always been interested in pursuing.

“My collaboration with these leading experts in their fields has been exceptionally rewarding both scientifically and culturally,” Spector said.

Launched in 2006, the US-Ireland R&D Partnership is a tri-jurisdictional alliance formed to promote collaborative innovative research projects that create value above and beyond individual efforts.

The partnership is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs; the Department for the Economy; the Medical Research Council; InterTradeIreland; the HSC Public Health Agency; the Science Foundation Ireland; the Health Research Board; the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the Department of State; the National Science Foundation; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. As of June 2021, the US-Ireland R&D Partnership has funded 67 projects and raised over US$130.7 million.