Research Team

Research

Our research efforts have been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Rubenstein Foundation, the Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation, the Klarman Family Foundation, and generous patrons. To answer the questions of most pressing scientific interest, we have cultivated research collaborations with national and international leaders in the eating disorder field within the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Fiji.

Because a comprehensive diagnostic system is critical for etiological inquiry, clinical communication, case detection, and treatment planning, our classification research explores how eating disorder categories can be improved by refining specific diagnostic criteria or adding new diagnoses. Our ongoing classification studies are done in partnership with investigators in the MGH Neuroendocrine Unit. This work focuses on neurobiological, endocrine, and genetic underpinnings of these disorders. Two key collaborations that are actively recruiting include: 

 

Low-weight eating disorder study

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder study

Do you have or think you may have a low-weight eating disorder?

If you are a low-weight female between the ages of 10 and 21 years old you may be eligible for a research study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate the relationship between hormones, brain activity and appetite. MRI is a non-invasive way to view brain activity without using X-rays.

This study includes one screening visit to confirm eligibility and three morning visits which will include a meal, questionnaires, blood draws and two MRI scans. Visits will be spread over 18 months and will occur at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA and at the Martinos Biomedical Imaging Center in Charlestown, MA.

Eligible participants will receive $550 for completing the study. Local transportation and parking costs will be reimbursed.

In order to be eligible, participants must not have taken oral contraceptives (birth control pills) or other medication containing hormones and must be able and willing to participate in MRI scans.

Please follow the link below to fill out our survey or contact Meghan Slattery, NP, via email at mslattery@partners.orgor by phone at (617) 643-0267 for more information.

Click here for more information.


Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is characterized by eating a limited volume or variety of food for reasons that are not associated with weight and shape concerns, such as taste selectivity, low appetite, or fear of aversive consequences such a choking or vomiting. Our study aims to investigate how ARFID can affect different hormones and regions of the brain. In this study, we use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), psychological assessments, and evaluation of hormones in the blood to better understand brain and hormone activity, as well as behavioral markers, of ARFID.

 

This is a longitudinal study, which means we will monitor participants over the course of two years. We hope to identify mechanisms that might influence the development of and recovery from ARFID, and how these factors might differ across individuals in the study.

If you are between the ages of 10-18 and think you may have ARFID or related symptoms (e.g., picky eating), you may be eligible for this study.

The study includes one screening visit to confirm eligibility, one main study visit that includes a meal, questionnaires, blood draws, and MRI scans, and two follow-up visits at one and two years after the main visit which will include interviews and questionnaires. Eligible participants will receive up to $150 for completing the study. Local transportation and parking costs will be reimbused.

In order to be eligible, participants must not have taken oral contraceptives (birth control pills) or other medication containing hormones and must be able and willing to participate in MRI scans.

If you are interested, you may fill out our survey here. If you would like more information, please contact Elisa Asanza via email at easanza@mgh.harvard.edu or by phone at (617) 726-9394p>

 

In addition to our diagnostic classification studies, our EDCRP and Neuroendocrine Unit studies aim to understand and treat osteopenia and osteoporosis, which represent common sequelae of anorexia nervosa and other low weight eating disorders. Further, this research endeavors to develop and test novel hormonal treatments for anorexia nervosa and the common comorbid symptoms of depression and anxiety. More information about ongoing studies is available here or link to neuroendocrine studies

Recently Completed Projects:

We conducted our Field Trial of DSM-5 Feeding and Eating Disorders in three clinical settings: the Klarman Eating Disorders Center, the Mass General Weight Center, and the Mass General Pediatric Gastrointestinal Unit. The DSM-5 Feeding and Eating Disorders Work Group has used our findings, among others, to support modification of current criteria, as well as the addition of newly discovered syndromes to the diagnostic nomenclature, including purging disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, and night eating syndrome.

Our Mass General Longitudinal Study mapped the course and outcome of eating disorders, addressing a central question posed by many patients and their families: “What will I be like in 5, 10, or 25 years?” Since 1987, we followed 246 women with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, gathering interview data about eating attitudes and behaviors, mood disorders, substance use, health, work, and relationships. To date, the work has generated over 40 published articles about eating disorders, covering topics such as recovery and relapse, longitudinal diagnostic crossover, alcohol and substance use, depression, pregnancy, and medical complications. This study gives us the opportunity to investigate the long-term course and outcome of these illnesses, to understand mechanisms of recovery—predictors of both wellness and poor outcome, and to better describe the definition of full recovery.

 

To learn more about current projects, please click here

To view recent EDCRP publications, please  click here

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