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Medical Health Aged Care

Monash Experts: The latest in eating disorder research

Monash University 3 mins read

Monash University researchers will contribute to The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre's annual Think Tank in Melbourne on Thursday-Friday June 6-7. It will discuss how the body and brain connect, the epigenetics of eating disorders and challenges researchers face.

Other topics include personalised measurement-based treatment, novel clinical trial designs, a GLP1 Agonists primer, connection-based therapy, narrative methodologies and the impact of hormones in mental illness and its treatment.

 

Available to comment: 

 

Dr Romi Goldschlager, Psychiatrist and Researcher at Li-THRED Transformative Hub for Research into Eating Disorders, HER Centre Australia, Monash University and Alfred Hospital’s Women’s Recovery Network

Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

  • sex hormones and mental illness
  • clinical management of anorexia 
  • new avenues for treatment of anorexia

Think Tank topic: Hormones in the aetiology, maintenance and treatment of mental disorders including eating disorders

 

The following can be attributed to Dr Goldschlager: 

 

“Medical research over the past 20 years has significantly improved  our understanding of how hormonal changes impact women’s mental health. Research by Monash University’s HER Centre Australia and The Multidisciplinary Alfred Psychiatric Research Centre (MAPrc) has revealed how hormonal changes during various life stages, such as menstruation, contraception use, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause, affect mental illnesses.


“For more than 50 years, scientists have suggested that anorexia and female hormones may be linked. Given the link between estrogen and anorexia, researchers, including me and colleagues at HER Centre’s Li Transformative Hub for Research into Eating Disorders (Li-THRED), hope to develop new anorexia treatments. We are investigating estrogen’s potential to impact weight and appetite, and its wider impact on mood and thinking.”

 

Professor Antonio Verdejo-Garcia, Professor (Research) in the School of Psychological Sciences and the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health
Contact details: +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more of Professor Verdejo-Garcia’s commentary at Monash Lens

  • brain and cognitive underpinnings of food choice
  • neurocognitive underpinnings of eating and weight related disorders
  • neuroscience-informed interventions for overeating related disorders 

Think tank topic: Neurobiological and cognitive overlaps between eating and addictive disorders

The following can be attributed to Professor Verdejo-Garcia:

“Knowing more about the mechanisms that drive loss of control is important to understanding brain and mental health issues like substance use disorders and eating disorders. This knowledge is particularly important to better understand and treat eating and weight related disorders linked to compulsive overeating such us binge-related disorders and obesity. 


“We run clinical trials of cutting-edge therapies using novel technologies, including neuroimaging and neurostimulation, phone apps, virtual and augmented reality and personalised just-in-time interventions:

  • Neuroimaging research on food choices. We can investigate how people make healthy and unhealthy food choices, and how they react to those foods inside the MRI scanner e.g. projects on highly palatable and processed food and how that impacts brain function and decision making.
  • We have developed mobile apps to help people control their dietary choices and their alcohol and food consumption.”

Professor Zane Andrews, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute Deputy Head, Metabolism, Diabetes and Obesity Program

Contact details: 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu
Read more of Professor Andrews’ commentary at Monash Lens
Available Thursday 6 June, except 3:20 to 5pm

 

  • How the brain controls appetite and food reward
  • How the body communicates with the brain to regulate food intake and body weight
  • How the novel weight loss drugs, like semaglutide (Ozempic/Wegovy), target the brain to reduce appetite and food motivation. Potential side effects.

Think tank topic: GLP1 Agonists: A biological Primer

 

The following can be attributed to Professor Andrews:


“New generation GLP1 receptor agonists like semaglutide produce life-changing weight loss and improvements in metabolic diseases like diabetes and now heart disease. However, the long term effects of semaglutide have not been explored, despite having to stay on these drugs long-term to maintain weight loss. 

 

“As the quote goes - there are two types of drugs; those that have side effects and those that don’t work. There are some concerns about the effects of taking these drugs long-term, such as loss of lean muscle, nausea and gastrointestinal issues, pancreatitis, potential effects on mood and behaviour as well. 

 

“More research is required, including fundamental research about how these drugs work in the brain. It’s important to note that these new drugs have been developed from fundamental research in physiology and neurobiology, and highlight the continuing need to support fundamental research in the control of body weight and appetite.”

For more Monash media stories visit our news & events site: monash.edu/news
For any other topics on which you may be seeking expert comment, contact the Monash University Media Unit on +61 3 9903 4840 or media@monash.edu

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