Oxford Brain-Body Research into Eating Disorders
Founded in 2010
Novel integrative approach of clinical- neuroscience collaborations
Funding from HEFCE, MRC, Sir Jules Thorne Charitable Trust, Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust, Swiss Anorexia Foundation
We work to understand the cognitive, biological, emotional and somatic processes underpinning the severe eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa in particular, and Eating Disorders in general. Our trans-disciplinary research, involving clinicians and neuroscientists, aims to translate research findings into novel treatment strategies.
Our work focuses on Anorexia Nervosa, a severe eating disorder, which has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. It remains one of the most challenging to treat and recover from, with a lack of evidence-based treatments. We aim to develop more effective treatments we need a better understanding of processes underpinning the illness.
We are proud of the innovative way our research brings together cognitive science, neuroscience and experimental psychology. This integration helps generate a deeper understanding of how cognitive, emotional and bodily processes interact to maintain the illness.With an international reputation in the field of Eating Disorders, we have made important advances in understanding the neurobiology of Anorexia Nervosa using functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI and MEG. These findings not only help us to better understand the disorder but enable us to push forward with research that is directly relevant to the development of new treatments.
In collaboration with world-class neuroscientists our work investigates brain processes underpinning thinking, feeling and experiencing reward, and how these differ for people with Anorexia Nervosa. Recent research has focused on the role of ruminative thought processes, abnormal reward processing and compulsivity. We hope to translate research findings into developing new forms of treatment and relapse prevention.
In collaboration with Professor Tipu Aziz, the Nuffield Department of Surgery, the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities and the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity allowed us to initiate complimentary multimodal imaging studies of neural processing and reward in individuals with current and past Anorexia Nervosa, now published.
Deep Brain Stimulation
We also developed the first registered UK study of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) targeted at neural reward centres, for individuals with severe enduring Anorexia Nervosa, with full HRA approval. These studies explored the neural processing and behavioural correlates of aberrant reward and habit formation in Anorexia Nervosa, and importantly to set the worlds first ethical gold standard to guide experimental brain research in Anorexia nervosa. The findings will contribute to an understanding of the neural processes underpinning Anorexia Nervosa and in tandem develop novel treatment strategies. With the aid of additional grants and generous charitable donations we continue with DBS study, which is now in the follow-up phase. We have now published the protocol and an important ethics gold standard to guide such studies worldwide.
OxBREaD benefits from affiliations with HBA well established groups within the Department of Psychiatry:
Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, OHBA
Wellcome Centre for ethics and humanities : Professor Ilina Singh
CREDO1: Professor Chris Fairburn’s research group is world leading in the development of treatments for Eating Disorders.
PERL: Professors Catherine Harmer's group has an international reputation for excellence in the field of neuroscience and neuroimaging.
For more information on eating disorders and finding help go to the beat website.
Interested in helping eating disorder research?
Do join our research interested list if you have any personal experience of an eating disorder, currently or in the past; or if you would be keen to participate in future research studies on eating disorders. Please contact us if you want to know more about our work, and we will then send you information. We are not currently recruiting for studies.
For more information or to register:
Oxford Research Interested List for Anorexia Nervosa (ORLA)
Or contact us:
Oxford Brain-Body Research in Eating Disorders (OxBREaD)
Department of Psychiatry
Do check out our new papers in the 'key publications' section of this page!
We are deeply grateful for the recent donations from the family and friends of the late Emma Bruce. We never met Emma but she had suffered from Anorexia for many years, and not long before she died, she was given hope after hearing about the work of OxBREaD.
Click here to go to their JustGiving page.
- Professor Phil Cowen (Neurosciences, Oxford University)
- Professor Catherine Harmer (Neurosciences, Oxford University)
- Professor Kia Nobre (OHBA, Oxford University)
- Professor Tipu Aziz (Department of Neurosurgery, Oxford University),
- Dr Jacinta Tan, Psychiatrist and ethicist, (University of Swansea)
- Dr Sanne de Witt (University of Amsterdam),
- Dr Claire Gillan (Trinity College Dublin)
Current research studies
We are not currently recruiting.