Prof Louise Thomas

Prof Louise Thomas

The paradox as to why individuals of apparently identical weight and height have different risks of developing metabolic disease has been the question underpinning my research for the last 25 years. My research to answer this has resulted in my internationally recognised track record in developing and applying innovative whole body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) based techniques as tools to non-invasively determine optimal health. Essential to this was my work directing the developing appropriate methods to analysis the data collected, this continues to be a particularly important aspect of my work, leading to constant contacts from companies and research groups around the world in need of such specialist expertise.

I joined the University of Westminster in October 2014, since this I have been closely involved in the foundation and running of Research Centre for Optimal Health (ReCOH).

My background was originally in Biochemistry, with a BSc from Queen Mary and Westfield College followed by a PhD investigating the effects of diet and development on adipose tissue composition using in vivo 13C NMR Spectroscopy. This led to a 20 year research career at the Robert Steiner MRI Unit, part of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at the Hammersmith Hospital developing novel non-invasive MR imaging and spectroscopy measure, quantify and understand body fat content and distribution in adults and infants.

A significant proportion of my research career has involved industrial collaborations with projects sponsored by a diverse range of companies including Perspectum Diagnostics, Health Concierge, AMRA, Calico, GSK, GW Pharma, Tanita, Select Research, AstraZeneca, Numico, Quest Diagnostics, and Herbal Life.

Whilst my research has focused on innovating MR methods for characterising total, regional and ectopic fat in obesity and NAFLD, I have also continued to validate and develop low cost alternatives to MRI, including novel technology, blood marker derived indices as well as algorithmic approaches to serve as a markers of visceral and liver fat content.

This work has led to a close involvement with the UK Biobank imaging study and successful industrial partnerships including a research collaboration/KTP award with Perspectum Diagnostics to develop and validation a new MR method for the diagnosis of patients for liver disease; consultancy and research partnerships  to work on improving methods for measurement of adipose tissue from abdominal MR images; and development automated radiomic analysis of organs to further enhance the depth and quantity of health metrics that can be derived from abdominal imaging.

  • Research Centre for Optimal Health
  • Health Data Science

Sustainable Development Goals
In brief

Research areas

Precision Phenotyping, Adipose Tissue Content and Distribution, Obesity and Fatty Liver and Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy

Supervision interests

MRI development, Visceral Fat, Fatty Liver Disease and Non-invasive Markers of Organ Health