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My research focuses on defining the psychological, somatic and neural processes underpinning eating disorders and using this deeper understanding to develop new forms of treatment.
In particular I investigate the most severe form of eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, because more effective forms of treatment are urgently needed: Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality of any psychiatric disorder and leads to chronic morbidity, yet the evidence base for treatment is weak. It is thus essential to develop novel, more effective treatments based on an understanding of the key processes maintaining the illness.
My novel cognitive science based framework for anorexia nervosa , with it’s implications for treatment, guides our research hypotheses. In collaboration with neuroscientists in Oxford we have investigated aberrant reward processes in severe eating disorders and from this we are developing new forms of treatment targeting these processes. Our investigations use cutting edge forms of brain imaging in addition to psychological experiments. We also particularly value the accounts of individuals affected by eating disorders in guiding our research.We are now starting to use these research findings to guide the development of exciting new approaches to treating eating disorders. These will reduce the costs of the illness to individuals their families and health services and improve the lives of those afflicted and their families. Extensive clinical experience with patients is central to my research: I am lead consultant to the Oxfordshire specialist eating disorders community team, based at Cotswold House, Warneford Hospital where I am particularly involved with helping students with eating disorders.
Additionally, I teach undergraduates in preclinical and clinical medicine, about eating disorders, and supervise PhD students.