Research Grants

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The Feeding Hope Fund for Clinical Research

Since 2013, the National Eating Disorders Association has awarded over $2 million in research grants to 20 researchers. NEDA is committed to providing help and hope to those affected by eating disorders. To this end, NEDA’s Feeding Hope Fund for Clinical Research aims to support projects that will improve the lives of individuals affected by eating disorders.

The Global Foundation for Eating Disorders (GFED) Early Investigators Research Grant

The GFED Early Investigators Research Grant program was founded in 2022 and provides grants of $50,000 over the course of two years. This award is designed to support early career researchers interested in pursuing research to advance the field of eating disorders treatment.

To learn more about the application process and timing, click here.

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Eligibility for Research Grants

Investigators who are United States citizens or lawful permanent residents conducting research at institutions within the United States at the time of submission are invited to apply. We encourage applications from eligible individuals from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, social and clinical sciences. The candidate’s research track record and other sources of funding will be considered when selecting awards.

Past Recipients

2023 Recipients

Christina Ralph-Nearman, Ph.D., University of Louisville

Awaken Emerse: Virtual Reality Exposure Treatment for Eating Disorders

This research will first further refine and develop existing Virtual Reality (VR) exposure treatment modules, called Awaken Emerse, to target three hallmark difficult-to-treat ED fears. Then, the research team will test the VR exposure therapeutic at two levels of care to identify what stage of recovery this therapeutic can be best used within. The goal is to provide a comprehensive, accessible, inclusive VR therapeutic to address key ED fears which are proposed to drive and maintain ED symptoms.

Courtney E. Breiner, Ph.D., Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Piloting a Single Session Habit Training Intervention for Adolescent Eating Pathology

As eating disorder rates continue to rise, we need to explore new avenues of prevention, particularly ones that target diverse populations. Single-session interventions have successfully led to reduction of other mental health concerns in adolescents, and there have been multiple calls to action to translate this method to the prevention of eating disorders. This habit-training intervention will serve to provide individuals with skills to target maladaptive eating behaviors in an accessible way, with the goal of serving many individuals who may not have otherwise received care due to a wide array of barriers.

Sarah Fischer Nowaczyk, Ph.D., George Mason University

Adapting Transdiagnostic Treatment of ARFID for Community Mental Health Centers

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder that results in significantly decreased food and nutritional intake and can lead to significant physical and social impairments. Many community mental health providers have not received training in how to diagnose and treat ARFID effectively. The research teams at George Mason University and Massachusetts General Hospital will work with partners at community mental health centers to adapt cognitive-behavioral therapy for ARFID for use in that setting. This will allow underserved communities to have access to this important treatment.

2022 Recipients

Janet A. Lydecker, Ph.D., F.A.E.D., Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry 

Mixed Methods Study of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Teens who have Bulimia Nervosa and Higher Weight 

Awareness that eating disorders affect diverse individuals, including people with higher weight, has increased. Yet, people with higher weight are underrepresented in eating disorder studies. There is essentially no evidence for the treatment of youth with bulimia nervosa (BN) and higher weight. The aim of the proposed project is to test the feasibility and acceptability of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) among youth with BN and higher weight in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The study will also conduct timeline interviews about BN development and weight stigma experiences to identify critical intervention periods.

Alexandra Muratore, Ph.D., Clinical Medical Psychology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Advancing Neurostimulation Treatments for Anorexia Nervosa 

The salient and life-threatening behavioral feature of AN is extreme restriction of calorie intake, which is highly resistant to change and predictive of poor outcome. We recently established that a single session of neuronavigation-guided high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (HF- rTMS) to a region of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is associated with significant reduction in restrictive food choices during a computerized food choice task. This effect is particularly notable because eating patterns are extremely difficult to change, even with a complete course of inpatient weight restoration treatment. A strength of this TMS research is that we used a mechanism-based approach and targeted a neural region involved in restrictive eating in AN. A crucial next step to improving treatment outcomes in AN is to test the effects of a full course of HF-rTMS on eating behavior and weight outcomes in a pilot clinical trial among inpatients with AN.

Rachel Vanderkruik, Ph.D., MsC, Center for Women’s Mental Health, Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital

Preventing Eating Disorder Relapse Among At-Risk Perinatal Women 

The normal physical changes associated with pregnancy, such as weight gain, move women away from the “thin ideal” for women’s bodies, which may increase body image dissatisfaction, a strong risk factor for disordered eating. Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating behaviors are relatively common in pregnancy and postpartum. Further, pregnancy can be a trigger for relapse among some women with histories of an eating disorder (ED). Given the detrimental physical and mental health consequences of EDs to both mother and offspring, relapse prevention efforts should be a public health priority among at risk women in pregnancy. To-date, there is a lack of ED prevention programs that target women in pregnancy. We propose to adapt and test The Body Project program among pregnant women with histories of eating disorders. We predict that participation in The Body Project program will reduce ED symptoms and ED relapse in pregnancy and the postpartum period.

2021 Recipients

Laura Berner, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine

Neurofeedback during Eating: A Novel Mechanistic Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa

This study aims to test a new intervention for Bulimia Nervosa (BN) that seeks to self-modify brain activity, utilizing neurofeedback via a wearable brain imaging device (functional near-infrared spectroscopy; fNIRS). Specifically, the treatment is focused on improving brain frontal lobe (prefrontal cortex; PFC) self-regulatory control in order to stop binge eating. Findings from this study may further our understanding of such symptom-maintaining mechanisms of BN, and can contribute to a therapeutic intervention that may help individuals with BN. Of note, this fNIRS technology has shown promise in other disorders (e.g., substance use disorders), where there are similar impulses, urges, and cravings, to engage in repetitive, maladaptive behaviors.

Erin Accurso, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco, Ellen Fitzsimmons-Craft, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine

Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention Adaptation for Adults with Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder on Public Health Insurance

This study aims to refine and test an online guided self-help (i.e., coached) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-based mobile application for Bulimia Nervosa (BN) and Binge Eating Disorder (BED) among adults with public health insurance. This population, including many individuals who are from lower socio-economic status (SES) and racially/ethnically diverse backgrounds, has been greatly underserved in evidenced-based intervention (EBI) access. The current project is focused on increasing the accessibility, acceptability, appropriateness, and affordability of the mobile application, leveraging NEDA’s online screening tool to reach this population, as well as engaging with a Stakeholder Advisory Board of community mental health centers to understand how this target population could best be reached, and to inform mobile intervention adaptations.

2020 Recipients

Rebecca Eyre, Project HEAL, Cheri Levinson, Ph.D., University of Louisville

Barriers to Treatment Access (BTA) Study for Individuals with Eating Disorders

This study aims to quantify the systemic barriers that people in the U.S. face when seeking ED treatment. Additional aims include: 1) quantifying specific healthcare and financial barriers; 2) identifying patterns and trends in the systemic, healthcare, and financial barriers, and determine which barriers are more or less commonly experienced by people of different geographies, ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, body sizes, insurance plans, diagnostic profiles, and treatment histories; and 3) obtaining data to support future efforts to reform the ED treatment landscape, in order to influence future policy and legal changes within all levels of the healthcare system to ensure equitable healthcare access for people with ED in the U.S.

Walter Kaye, M.D., Stephanie Knatz-Peck, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

New Directions in Virtual and Online Temperament-Based Treatments for Eating Disorders

This study aims to address the critical need to develop and test neurobiologically-targeted treatments for adults with Anorexia Nervosa (AN). The treatment model is a mixture of Family Based Treatment (FBT) and Temperament-Based Treatment with Supports (TBT-S), focusing on psychoeducation of the neurobiology of AN, to produce an Intensive Family Treatment (IFT). The original treatment model was based on face to face sessions for 5 days, with promising pilot study data (2017). The virtual model of this treatment now has advantages for facilitating training and dissemination, offering COVID19 related telehealth benefits, and through pilot data, suggesting acceptability and feasibility that are similar to the face to face IFT treatment model.

2019 Recipients

Note: FHF Grants were not awarded this year.

2018 Recipients

C. Barr Taylor, M.D., Palo Alto University

Automating Coaching to Facilitate Dissemination of an Effective Prevention Program.

This study aims to develop a scalable, low-cost eating disorders prevention resource. They have created a moderated, fully automated version of the StudentBodies© program using a specialized chatbot called Tessa™. Tessa™ provides users with access to brief, online StudentBodies© sessions, which contain essential components of targeted prevention. Having already developed a prototype of the StudentBodies© and Tessa™ program, the researchers will now determine if the intervention is effective in reducing eating disorders risk factors.

Rachel W. Goode, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Preventing Binge Eating Disorder among Black women in Primary Care.

As African American women have the lowest rates of access to care for eating disorders treatment, the researcher proposes recruiting African American women with weekly binge eating episodes from UNC for a trial to examine the feasibility and accessibility of six-month Appetite Awareness Training (AAT). Currently, intervention research addressing binge eating behaviors among African American women is extremely scarce. She will conduct key informant interviews with UNC Department of Family Medicine staff and participants to determine the accessibility of the AAT intervention in the primary care setting.

Stuart Murray, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco

The Open Versus Blind Weight Conundrum in Anorexia Nervosa.

This study aims to examine whether open versus blind weighing practices impact subjective distress around being weighed; anorexia nervosa symptom severity; and treatment outcome in adolescents with anorexia nervosa. It will examine whether the discrepancy between predicted versus actual weight is associated with distress around being weighed and anorexia nervosa symptom severity, and examine whether baseline clinical or patient characteristics moderate the impact of either open or blind weighing practices upon distress around weighing, or severity across time points.