Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research

Welcome to Eating Disorders Research

Team Photo of Eating Disorders Research

Current Research Studies

We have a number of active studies that are currently recruiting individuals with eating disorders, women who have recovered from eating disorders, and individuals who have never had an eating disorder. Please contact us to learn more about the studies in which you may be eligible to participate at edresearch@ucsd.edu

PET IMAGING STUDY (Positron Emission Tomography)

ABOUT THE STUDY:

We are conducting this study to find out more about two chemicals in the brain, serotonin and dopamine. We are interested in comparing women who have never had an eating disorder with women who have recovered from anorexia nervosa and/or bulimia nervosa. This is a two day PET (Positron Emission Tomography) study that uses a technique to "label" active areas of the brain. It requires the injection of small amounts of radioactive tracers while you lie in a special scanner.

This amount of radiation exposure is not expected to produce any harmful effects and is similar to that from many commonly performed diagnostic Nuclear Medicine Procedures. This study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

WHAT YOU’LL BE ASKED TO DO:

During the study, you will undergo two PET scans each lasting about 60-100 minutes and done on separate days.

COMPENSATION:

The compensation for completing PET scans is $875-1250. We may also be able to provide travel compensation to San Diego.

WE’RE RECRUITING:

Who may be eligible?

If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the above research studies, please call Daria Orlowska at (858) 534-8031 or email edresearch@ucsd.edu.

SENSATION AND EMOTION STUDY

ABOUT THE STUDY:

This research uses fMRI to assess how the brains of individuals who have recovered from eating disorders may respond differently during tasks related to various sensations. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) techniques use powerful magnetic fields that allow a scanner and a computer to take very detailed pictures of the structure of the brain and brain activation.

WHAT YOU’LL BE ASKED TO DO:

Participation in this study includes diagnostic interviews and a 2- 4 hour scanning visit, with one- two hours in the MRI scanner. During the scan, participants will complete two tasks, the first of which the participant will experience two types of sensations- one tactile sensation and one respiratory sensation. The second task will measure emotional response to sound.

COMPENSATION:

Participants are compensated $200 for this single visit. Depending on participants’ current location, we cover travel expenses as well as a one night hotel stay for the visit.

WE’RE RECRUITING:

Healthy Controls
Females who have recovered from anorexia nervosa
Females who have recovered from bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa
Females who have recovered from bulimia nervosa

ELIGIBLE PARTICIPANTS:

Adults and teen females between ages 18-45 years old
Behavior/symptom free for at least 12 months (if recovered)
Drug and medicine free for at least 3 months (birth control is okay)

If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the above research studies, please call Laura Greathouse at (858) 534-7371 or email edresearch@ucsd.edu.

BRAIN IMAGING STUDY OF BULIMIA NERVOSA

ABOUT THE STUDY:

This research uses fMRI to assess how the brains of individuals who have recovered from or currently have bulimia nervosa may respond differently during various tasks related to reward decision-making and self-regulation.

WHAT YOU’LL BE ASKED TO DO:

Participation in this research includes diagnostic interviews, questionnaires, and 1-2 fMRI study visits. During the both fMRI study visits you would complete two tasks in the scanner. The first fMRI visit will involve one task of reward-related decision-making, and a taste task. The second fMRI visit will involve one task in which you will have to respond to pictures by pressing buttons, and another task related to emotion.

COMPENSATION:

Participants are compensated up to $300 for all visits. Depending on participants’ current location, we may cover travel expenses as well as a one night hotel stay for the visit.

WE’RE RECRUITING:

Healthy controls
Adults and teen females who currently have bulimia nervosa
Adults and teen females who have recovered from bulimia nervosa

ELIGIBLE PARTICIPANTS:

Females between 15 and 30 years old
Drug free for at least 3 months (birth control and some medications are okay)
If recovered from bulimia nervosa, behavior/symptom-free for at least 12 months

If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the above research studies, please call Dr. Alice Ely at (858) 246-0699 or email edresearch@ucsd.edu

MICROBIOME STUDY

ABOUT THE STUDY:

In the past few years, scientists have learned a lot about the bacteria that we have in our gut. For example, these bacteria help digest the food we eat and may affect our behavior and immune system. Very little is known about gut bacteria in people who have eating disorders. It is possible that knowing more about these gut bacteria may lead to more effective treatments for eating disorders. The goal of this study is to examine differences in the gut microbiome of underweight children with eating disorders compared with that of a normal weight sibling. We are also examining how the microbiome may change over the course of eating disorder treatment.

WHAT YOU’LL BE ASKED TO DO:

The participant and their parent and/or sibling will be asked to answer some survey questions and fill out some questionnaires. They will also provide two stool samples at different times during the study. Normal weight siblings will be approached during the first week of the patient’s admission and contacted again when patient has gained 10% of their ideal body weight. On admission, the patient must be between 60-80 percent of IBW and studied within one week of admission. COMPENSATION: $50 Amazon gift certificate for each stool sample provided; up to $100 Amazon gift certificate total

WE’RE RECRUITING:

Individuals who currently have a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa
Healthy siblings of participants with anorexia nervosa

ELIGIBLE PARTICIPANTS:

Males and females between 13 and 30 years old
Sibling participants who are weight stable and do not have any psychiatric illness, including an eating disorder

If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the above research studies, please call Laura Greathouse at (858) 534-7371 or email edresearch@ucsd.edu.

NEWFED

ABOUT THE PROGRAM:

The NEWFED TR-eatment (Neurobiologically Enhanced With Family Eating Disorder Trait Response) is a one week family treatment program for eating disorders that provides a unique opportunity for clients and support persons to learn and heal together. The treatment plan uses new brain-based treatment tools and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), integrated with a new dietary approach with medication management for health living. The program takes place approximately once every two months in collaboration with the Center for Balanced Living in Columbus, Ohio.

WHAT YOU’LL BE ASKED TO DO:

Participants will attend a one week program with at least one support person. Treatment programs will be held from Saturday to Saturday for a total of 40 hours, 8am-4pm. They will be held at either the UCSD Eating Disorder Center in San Diego or The Center for Balanced Living.

COST:

Sliding fee scale
We provide treatment scholarships for those without insurance, funded by the NEDA Feeding Hope Research Grant

WE’RE RECRUITING:

5 clients will be accepted per week
Ages 18 and older
Current of previous anorexia nervosa diagnosis

If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the above research studies, please call Stephanie Knatz at (619) 573-5073 or email edresearch@ucsd.edu.

Testimonial from a Past Participant

'Having the opportunity to participate in an eating disorder research study, as a result of a personal experience, was rewarding in many ways. The research staff was professional, organized & compassionate; I felt well-informed throughout the duration of the whole study. Not only did I get the opportunity to meet individuals who shared the same interest in learning more about such a life-threatening illness, I was also given great accommodation in San Diego and generous compensation. I look forward to participating in future opportunities! Thank you UCSD staff for a great experience!'