Listening to patients living with obesity



SOPHIA (Stratification of Obese Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy) is a €16 million EU and industry supported international research consortium, led by UCD. The goal of SOPHIA is to develop usable tools to predict who will develop complications of obesity.

Engaged Research

Dr Emma Farrell, UCD School of Education, works as part of the SOPHIA study's work package seven team that aims to ensure that the voices and experiences of people living with obesity are central to the study's mission of improving treatment of this chronic disease.

This workpackage is led by Dr Deirdre McGillicuddy (UCD School of Education), Joe Nadglowski (Obesity Action Coalition) and Jeanette Soderberg (JDRF- the leading global organisation funding type 1 diabetes research). Using an engaged research approach, they place the voices, perspectives and experiences of those living with obesity at the heart of the work being carried out by SOPHIA's 32 collaborative global partners to optimise the future treatment of obesity.


Obesity is a global pandemic currently affecting around 150 million people in Europe and 650 million people worldwide. Obesity complications are common but we cannot yet predict who will develop any of the 200 known complications of obesity. Moreover, there are insufficient predictors for who will respond to obesity treatments. SOPHIA aims to identify, characterise and stratify clinically-meaningful subpopulations of patients living with obesity to match the right treatment for the right person at the right time. 

The voices of people living with obesity are at the heart of SOPHIA through a Patient Advisory Board, which ensures that patients’ insights, opinions and wishes are interwoven into the multiple layers of the study. The research group will contribute to a more patient-centric and equitable narrative around obesity and its multiple impacts on individuals from both a social and medical perspective. It all starts with obesity being a chronic disease, not something people choose to live with. 

This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) (under grant agreement no. 875534). The JU receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and EFPIA and T1D Exchange, JDRF, and Obesity Action Coalition (

Further Reading

Dr Emma Farrell's recent book “Making Sense of Mental Health: A practical approach through lived experience”. 

Visit the SOPHIA consortium website