Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program

At the Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program, our mission is to provide the highest quality patient care, clinical research, professional training, and public education.

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 Dr. Elizabeth Lawsonscientific 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. Current work includes:

 

  • 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 maps 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.
  • Our Neuroendocrine Unit studies studies endeavor to test novel hormonal treatments for anorexia nervosa and the common comorbid symptoms of depression and anxiety. Other studies aim to understand and treat osteopenia and osteoporosis, which represent common sequelae of anorexia nervosa. In addition to efforts to treat anorexia nervosa and its complications, our collaborative work with the Neuroendocrine Unit focuses on genetic, endocrine, and neurobiological underpinnings of anorexia nervosa. This research involves a large-scale genetics project, and a neuroimaging study to examine the neurobiology of appetite-regulating hormones that may contribute to food restriction.

 

To learn more about current projects, please click here

To learn view recent EDCRP publications, please click here