Current Research Studies at UCSD Center for Eating Disorders

Doctor working on Current Research StudiesEating disorders are among the most complex diseases with many different factors contributing to the development of these disorders which is why current research studies are important.

Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any other psychiatric illness, tragically claiming more lives than any other mental illness.  With so much at stake and these life-threatening diseases endangering the lives of countless individuals, more answers are needed in terms of understanding how to effectively treat eating disorders.

Current Research Studies Lead to Advancements

Advancements in the field of eating disorders are primarily made possible by research studies and trials.

Studying the varying components of eating disorders, including factors that may contribute to the development of eating disorders, can give a better understanding not only of the actual disease but also of treatment approaches that can help a sufferer recover.

Because of the complexity of these diseases, researchers in the field of eating disorders are pioneers, discovering many new facets about these disease states that are opening up new possibilities for treatment approaches.

While many different scientists and research teams have contributed to the advancement of the knowledge and understanding of eating disorders, some scientists have made breakthrough discoveries in their research endeavors.

Dr. Walter Kaye and his team from the University of California of San Diego Eating Disorder Research and Treatment Program have conducted several studies and trials that have given a greater understanding of eating disorders.

Biological Influence on Eating Disorders

dna-163466_1280Many of Dr. Kaye’s research has highlighted and elucidated the biological component of eating disorders.

With many misconceptions of eating disorders surrounding the idea that others could be “blamed” for the development of an eating disorder, understanding the strong biological influence of these diseases has been fundamental to breaking stigmas and enhancing treatment approaches.

Dr. Kaye’s research has investigated many aspects of eating disorders, including genetic and neurobiology factors that are unique to individuals who struggle with an eating disorder.

Present studies at the UCSD Eating Disorder Research and Treatment Program give the opportunity for participation, contribution, and support of an organization that is striving to make a difference in the eating disorder community.  These current studies continue to be invaluable to individuals who are suffering, families, and loved ones alike who are searching for answers, solutions, and effective treatment.

Current Studies

doctor-659896_1280While Dr. Walter Kaye and his team at the UCSD Eating Disorder Research and Treatment Program have conducted and published many scientific studies, these are some of their studies that are currently being investigated and open to participation:

  • fMRI Studies:  Using a brain imaging technology called Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), UCSD researchers are seeking to better understand the biological components of eating disorders.  By taking pictures of the brain through this imaging technique, scientists are comparing the brain scans of women who have recovered from anorexia nervosa to those who have never had an eating disorder.  This particular study is seeking to investigate the neural activation connected with eating disorders [1].
  • PET Studies: Using Positron Emission Tomography (PET), researchers from UCSD are comparing women who have recovered from bulimia nervosa and/or anorexia nervosa with women who have never had an eating disorder.  The purpose of this study is to investigate two chemicals in the brain, serotonin and dopamine, and the possible association with the development of an eating disorder.

Both of these studies are currently accepting participants, including women ages 18-45 who have recovered from anorexia and bulimia nervosa as well as women in this age group who have never had an eating disorder.

To learn more about the current research studies being conducted at the UCSD Eating Disorder Research and Treatment Program, contact Daria Orlowska at (858) 534-8031 or email [email protected].

Your support of these research studies in the eating disorder community, either as a participant or through sharing and spreading the word, can be invaluable contributions to the advancement of treatment for sufferers.


  1. UCSD Eating Disorder Center for Treatment and Research, “Current Studies”, Accessed 20 July 2015

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a Contributing Writer for Eating Disorder Hope.

Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing.  As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published August 15, 2015, on
Reviewed & Updated on July 31, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC