Demystifying the Biological Research of Eating Disorders

Saturday, March 5, 2011: 10:40 AM-12:10 PM
Point Hilton at Squaw Peak
This lecture, based on Dr. DeSarbo's upcoming book, Demystifying the Biology of Eating Disorders, addresses recent published scientific research in the ED field. Participants can incorporate this information into their practice to improve treatment outcomes, develop better treatment plans, educate patients using scientific evidence, and enhance patient rapport. Over 25 international studies will be covered including the biological discoveries explaining the impact of neurochemistry, neuroanatomy, and endocrine findings of EDs. Learn to incorporate into treatment the biology of EDs from the lecture's translation of complex research data into easy to understand concepts with important implications. A complete workbook is included.
Course Outline: Demystifying the Biology of Eating Disorders

(Workbook Provided with Lecture)

Jeffrey DeSarbo, DO

I.  Understanding the Research of Eating Disorders

    A. Where to Find the Published Research: the risks and benefits of obtaining research from various sources (i.e. scientific      journals, company newsletters, product/company studies, the internet, newspapers and the media.)

    B: Types of Research Studies: understanding how research studies are designed and data is obtained.

       1) What is Blind/Double Blind vs. Open Studies?

       2) What is a Placebo Controlled Study?

       3) Types of Data Collection.

       4) What is a Case Report?

       5) What is a Center Study?

       6) What are Multi-Center Studies?

       7) What are Clinical Trials?

       8) A Brief Tutorial in Neuroimaging.

    C. Interpretation and Validity of Data: Differentiating the difference between “good” data and “poor” data.

       1) The Relevance of Correlation.

       2) The Importance of Study Size.

       3) What is Replication?

       4) Paying Attention to Disclosure of Interests.

 II.   Understanding Specific Research Studies and Findings

     A. Genetic Discoveries (heritability, chromosomal) with eating disorders

    B.  Neuroanotomical findings (brain changes) with eating disorders

    C.   Neuroimaging (MRI, fMRI, SPECT, CAT/PET SCAN) findings with eating disorders.

    D.  Neurotransmitter (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, cannabiods, etc.) research with eating disorders.

    E.   Endocrine (pituitary, estrogen, leptin, thyroid, etc.) findings with eating disorders.

    F.   Pharmacological (psychiatric and medical drugs) research in eating disorder treatment.

    G.   Psychotherapy research studies (DBT, ACT, CBT, etc.) with eating disorders.

    H.   Complimentary treatments (yoga, vitamins, massage, etc.) with eating disorders.


III.   Applications of Research Findings for Treatment Planning and Your Practice

      A. Self-Understanding: How to understanding and conceptualizing your patient and their condition in a more comprehensive manner by incorporating the emerging research evidence.

      B. Communicating with Patients and Families: How to better establish rapport by demonstrating an expanded knowledge of the disease process and teaching patients about the biology of their condition using lay terms.

      C. Communicating with Collaborating Clinicians: How to better communicate with other treatment providers by understand the concepts of evidence based research and practices.

      D. Treatment Planning: How to create better treatment plans by conceptualizing your patient in a more scientific manner.


This unique course is designed to help all clinicians better understand the importance of the emerging scientific research. Treatment providers who want to remain up-to-date in the eating disorder field will find the information in this lecture valuable in their continued education and awareness about the complexities of eating disorders. Dr. Jeffrey DeSarbo will act as a translator of the published scientific data, taking complex topics of research design, validity, findings and interpretation and making it "user friendly" for all therapists and clinicians as well as for patients and their families. Participants will learn how to determine the credibility of reported research, understand the benefits and pitfalls of various types of research, and how they can use credible research to better conceptualize their patient's condition and use this information to provide a higher lever of professional care. 

The heart of the lecture will discuss specific eating disorder research findings on topics such as genetics, changes in brain anatomy, metabolism and blood flow, alterations in neurotransmitters and neuroendocrine functioning, as well as other biological changes associated with eating disorders. Learn which regions of the brain appear to be effected by eating disorders and what are the implications of these findings? What does the research support about the biological changes associated with disease onset and recovery? How to use research findings that may prove critical for patient mortality. Does evidence support the use of medications to help with the psychiatric and medical management of patients? Additionally, this lecture cover the research conducted on complimentary treatments such as yoga, massage and vitamins. Which studies show promise and which dismiss certain strategies? Dr. DeSarbo will give specific examples of how he uses the latest scientific information to educate patients and help them feel more comfortable with the understanding of their eating disorder and how he utilizes biological research to minimize patient and family blame for their illness. Participants will also expand their knowledge base from a scientific perspective while learning how to utilize this information to enhance their professional acceptance and communication with patients, families and other treatment providers.  

Primary Presenter:
Jeffrey DeSarbo, DO

Jeffrey DeSarbo, D.O. is a Board Certified Psychiatrist in private practice in Garden City, NY, the Director of Psychiatric Services for the N.Y. Eating Disorder Medical Group and the Producer of the Eating Disorder News Network ( His practice specializes in the treatment of eating disorders and he practices psychodynamic, CBT and existential therapy in addition to psychopharmacological management. He is also currently authoring two books: Demystifying the Biology Behind Eating Disorders, and Why Eating Disorder Treatment Fails. Dr. DeSarbo's special interest is with the neurobiological aspects of eating disorders and helping others understand how their biology effects their lives.

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