Columbia University Medical Center
Ranked #1 in Psychiatry
U.S. News & World Report
Ranked #1 in Research Funding
National Institutes of Health
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

Research Studies

Our Center has been at the forefront of research in the field of eating disorders for over 30 years.

Research can encompass many things: structured interviews, questionnaires, computer tasks, observations in specific settings, and imaging modalities all constitute research. These activities are done to try to answer questions about the behaviors, biology, and neurobiology of these illnesses. Participation provides a valuable contribution to the field, and helps inform the future directions.

Current Research Includes:

Olanzapine vs. Placebo for Outpatients with Anorexia Nervosa

This study aims to examine whether or not the medication olanzapine may be helpful in treating anorexia nervosa as measured by psychological improvement and weight restoration. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive either olanzapine or placebo for 16 weeks, during which time participants will come in to the clinic weekly to complete questionnaires and meet with a physician. They will then be followed for another 8 weeks.

Anorexia Nervosa and the Cognitive Neuroscience of Food Choice

This study looks at decision making in patients with anorexia nervosa, especially around food choice. Subjects are asked to look at and make decisions about pictures of food.

Multimodal Imaging of the Mesocortical System in Anorexia Nervosa (MANI)

In this study we are looking at how the nervous system is organized in patients with Anorexia Nervosa. Specifically, we will be looking at the structure and connectivity of one’s brain while in an MRI scanner. Participation is at two time points- when you first come into the hospital and then again after you reach your target weight. At each time point, we ask you to fill out self-report questionnaires and have an MRI scan lasting no more than 60 minutes.


This inpatient study focuses on the behaviors that have become regular routines, or “habits,” as part of the eating disorder for those with anorexia nervosa, and on the emotions that are involved when trying to change habits. Participants will have 12 sessions with their study therapist using a new type of therapy called "Regulating Emotions and Changing Habits". They will complete research assessments (including computer tasks and an assessment of eating) before and after treatment.

Decisions About Food in Bulimia Nervosa

In this study we are interested in learning more about the decision making process in choosing food to eat. This study is completed on two separate days, the first of which the participant eats a standardized lunch, fills out some questionnaires, and does a computer task. In this task, the participant will be making decisions about food and then we randomly select one of the choices and the participant will eat that food as a snack afterwards. The second day we ask the participant to do the same computer task with a snack afterwards.

An MRI Study of Adolescents with Bulimia Nervosa

We are interested in learning why some people develop eating disorders. We are recruiting girls who have a problem with binge-eating and purging and girls who do not. Participation in this study involves interviews as well as taking pictures of your brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There are no known health hazards associated with MRI. Compensation (up to $400) or treatment will be provided for participation.

Emotions and Behavior: A Study of Bulimia Nervosa using fMRI

This imaging study, conducted with our collaborators at Weill Cornell Medical College, uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study certain characteristics of bulimia nervosa. Participants are asked to perform computer tasks that assess memory and attention, as well as to respond to specific cues on the screen while in a fMRI scanner. The study is performed at Weill Cornell Medical Center and lasts approximately 3-3 1/2 hours.

Brain Imaging and Eating Behavior in Healthy Kids

In the Healthy Kids Study, we are trying to learn more about how children make food choices about the food they eat. The study takes place on two different days, always outside of school hours. Kids in the study answer questions about foods they like or don't like, play computer games, and eat snacks in our Eating Behavior Laboratory. Some will also be asked to have an MRI brain scan and eat lunch in our laboratory on a second day. We offer prizes throughout the study and also offer gift card compensation for participating in the first study day.

Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery

This multi-site study assesses psychosocial aspects of adults who undergo bariatric surgery. A second study is analyzing the relationship between body weight and cognitive functioning before and after surgery.

Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery (CABS)

This longitudinal study examines whether pre-surgery psychological factors affect surgical outcome and long-term psychological functioning.

Weight Suppression, Dieting and Bulimia Nervosa: A Bio-behavioral Study

This study is looking at the biology of dieting and weight in individuals with bulimia nervosa. Participants will be asked to come in to the clinic on three separate days during a 3 week period and once for a follow-up visit 6 months later. Study measurements will include a breathing test which measures resting metabolism, a DXA scan which measures bone density and body composition, and a fasting blood draw.

After the 3 weeks of assessments, participants will be offered one of two types of treatment: 20 sessions of outpatient cognitive behavioral therapy over 4-5 months, with medication if appropriate or inpatient treatment, which consists of a 4-6 week hospitalization at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Long Term Course of Eating Disorders

The purpose of this study is to gather information about how various eating and weight problems change over time among patients with eating disorders who receive inpatient treatment at the Eating Disorders Research Unit. Participants are contacted once per year for up to ten years to participate in a brief phone interview and will be asked to complete and return several self-report forms. Interviews and self-report forms ask about eating and weight as well as psychological and physical health.

If you are interested in serving as a control subject for a study, please contact us as well.



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