Welcome to the Hildebrandt Lab
The Hildebrandt Lab is dedicated to research of the neurobiology and treatment of eating, weight, and body image disturbance across the age spectrum. We use a mixture of neuroimaging, psychophysiology, neurocognitive, and endocrine assays as well as integrated technology solutions to inform the creation of new treatments for these populations. Results from our work in our lab continue to help us to develop, implement, and disseminate empirically supported treatments to our patients and their families.
Our research program involves the study of all types of eating disorder pathology and weight among a diverse group of individuals from the NY Metro area. These research studies are vital to the operation of our program, as they provide treatment to individuals who otherwise may not be able to afford treatment. Additionally, results from these studies help us to continue to employ the most effective courses of therapy for our patients.
Our research studies have been internationally recognized at conferences, and garnered acclaim from peers in the field of eating disorders, and by fellow clinicians. We continue to publish findings from these research studies to both further the body of knowledge on the treatment of eating disorders, and to also improve treatment outcomes for patients. All of the research we conduct is designed to ultimately improve the lives of individuals suffering from any of these issues.
Our research generally focuses on two areas: (1) understanding biological (e.g., genes, brain function, hormones) and psychological mechanisms that may affect the development and maintenance of feeding, eating disorders, and weight disorders; and (2) examining novel treatments for these individuals and their families.
Researchers in our lab are also involved in the study of anabolic steroids and other Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs, bariatric surgery outcomes, and alcohol use disorders.
For our clinical services please refer to our Mount Sinai website here.
Endocannabinoids and Food Avoidance in Anorexia Nervosa
We are studying the role of endocannabinoids in eating behavior among adults recently (within 12 months) weight restored from anorexia nervosa. The study will examine weather endocannabinoids (your body’s ‘natural marijuana’) change in response to food choice and whether the signals for this system are less responsive in your body and brain to food intake.
- 1 PET/MRI brain scan with CB1 receptor ligand
- Computerized tasks and meal tasks
- Interviews and questionnaires
- Participants are reimbursed for their time.
Living Laboratory for Eating and Weight Disorders
We are creating a comprehensive biobank of clinical, neuroimaging, physiological, and genetic data for the study of eating and weight disorders. Data will be used to develop clinical tools, identifying neurobiological mechanisms, and develop novel treatments for individuals seeking treatment and their families.
- Diagnostic intake
- Computerized tasks and meal tasks
- Blood draw
- fMRI scan
- Participants are reimbursed for their time
Adolescents with Low Weight Eating Disorders
We are studying brain function, eating behavior, and their role in food avoidance in adolescents with low weight eating disorders. This effort involves testing a new treatment that targets aversive learning and compares it to a standard treatment. Girls aged 12-18 at a low weight who have problems with restricting their eating may be eligible to participate in 10 visits over 8-10 weeks. Girls aged 12-18 without eating problems are also being recruited to serve as a comparison group. Participation for this group includes a total of 4 visits over 8-10 weeks.
All participants complete:
- 2 fMRI brain scans with EMG
- Computerized tasks and meal tasks
- Interviews and questionnaires
- Adolescents with eating disorders: 6 sessions of research treatment
There is no cost to participate in this research, and participants are compensated $275 for their time in completing the procedures. Adolescents with eating disorders who continue to experience symptoms after the research treatment intervention are also eligible to receive an additional 20 sessions of a standard form of family therapy for anorexia nervosa at no cost.
If you would like more information or want to discuss participating, contact Mia Campbell at 212-659-8724 or via email at email@example.com
Decision Making, Iron Absorption, and Anorexia Nervosa
We are conducting a research study evaluating risk and decision making in adults with anorexia nervosa.
We are looking for young people, aged 18-40 years, who are diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa who are underweight with eating problems.
- Diagnostic Interview
- Completion of fMRI and blood draw
- Computerized task
- Results of the evaluations upon completion of the study will be provided.
If you would like more information or want to discuss participating, contact Dr. Melanie Brown at 212-659-8724 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bariatric Surgery: There’s an App for That
We are interested in whether use of a smartphone app (Noom Bariatric Health) is useful for improving mood, diet, and physical activity pre or post bariatric surgery. Eligible participants will receive smartphone-based coaching in group or individual format and complete tailored bariatric surgery intervention.
- Pre-surgery psychological evaluation
- Completion of computerized assessments pre and post surgery (up to 12 months)
- Wearing a fitbit to track physical activity
Metabolic Changes to Dietary Intake in Low Weight Eating Disorders
We are interested in studying whether there are changes in metabolic signals related to increased dietary fat and low carbohydrate diet among treatment seeking adults who have been weight restored from a course of anorexia nervosa.
- 8 weekly sessions of dietary counseling
- Following a low-carbohydrate diet for 8 weeks that is weight neutral
- Weekly blood draws
- fMRI scan
Dietary counseling sessions are provided without charge for participation.
Self-Control in Bulimia Nervosa
We are interested in whether changes in brain activity and behavior after fasting and after eating could help to explain symptoms of bulimia nervosa. If you binge eat and purge, are female, right-handed, and aged 18-35, you may be eligible to participate in this study. We are also recruiting women aged 18-35 who have never had an eating disorder to serve as a comparison group.
Participation includes interviews, questionnaires, an fMRI scan that takes place after a 16-hour fast, and an fMRI scan that takes place after a standardized meal. Reimbursement for time and travel will be provided.
For more information, please call 212-659-8799 to speak with a member of our staff or e-mail Thalia Viranda at email@example.com.
Kim Y, Sysko R, Michaeledes A, Ramos T, Hildebrandt T. (2019) 92 Effects of Smartphone Coaching Intervention on Dietary Intake for Bariatric Surgery Candidates: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. CNS Spectr. 24(1):220-221. doi: 10.1017/S1092852919000683.
Plasencia, M., Sysko, R., Fink, K., & Hildebrandt, T. (2019). Applying the disgust conditioning model of food avoidance: A case study of acceptance-based interoceptive exposure. Int J Eat Disord, 52(4), 473-477. doi:10.1002/eat.23045
Zambrowicz R, Schebendach J, Sysko R, Mayer LES, Walsh BT, Steinglass JE. (2019) Relationship between three factor eating questionnaire-restraint subscale and food intake. Int J Eat Disord. 52(3):255-260. doi: 10.1002/eat.23014
Hildebrandt, T., Schulz, K., Fleysher, L., Griffen, T., Heywood, A., & Sysko, R. (2018). Development of a methodology to combine fMRI and EMG to measure emotional responses in patients with anorexia nervosa. Int J Eat Disord. doi:10.1002/eat.22893
Hildebrandt, T., Schulz, K., Schiller, D., Heywood, A., Goodman, W., & Sysko, R. (2018). Evidence of prefrontal hyperactivation to food-cue reversal learning in adolescents with anorexia nervosa. Behav Res Ther, 111, 36-43. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2018.08.006
Sysko R. (2018) The Maturation of Research on Psychosocial Outcomes Among Adolescents Receiving Bariatric Surgery. J Adolesc Health, 63(2):127-128. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.06.001.
Sysko R., Steinglass J, Schebendach J, Mayer LES, Walsh BT. (2018) Rigor and reproducibility via laboratory studies of eating behavior: A focused update and conceptual review. Int J Eat Disord, 51(7):608-616. doi:10.1002/eat.22900.
Hildebrandt T, Schulz K, Fleysher L, Griffen T, Heywood A, Sysko R. (2018) Development of a methodology to combine fMRI and EMG to measure emotional responses in patients with anorexia nervosa. Int J Eat Disord, 51(7):722-729. doi: 10.1002/eat.22893
Griffen, T. C., Naumann, E., & Hildebrandt, T. (2018). Mirror exposure therapy for body image disturbances and eating disorders: A review. Clin Psychol Rev, 65, 163-174. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2018.08.006
Epstein, E. E., McCrady, B. S., Hallgren, K. A., Cook, S., Jensen, N. K., & Hildebrandt, T. (2018). A randomized trial of female-specific cognitive behavior therapy for alcohol dependent women. Psychol Addict Behav, 32(1), 1-15. doi:10.1037/adb0000330
Klimek, P., & Hildebrandt, T. (2018). Psychosocial correlates of gap time to anabolic-androgenic steroid use. Int J Eat Disord, 51(6), 535-541. doi:10.1002/eat.22859
Brown, M., Robinson, L., Campione, G. C., Wuensch, K., Hildebrandt, T., & Micali, N. (2017). Intolerance of Uncertainty in Eating Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Eur Eat Disord Rev, 25(5), 329-343. doi:10.1002/erv.2523
Hildebrandt, T., Michaelides, A., Mackinnon, D., Greif, R., DeBar, L., & Sysko, R. (2017). Randomized controlled trial comparing smartphone assisted versus traditional guided self-help for adults with binge eating. Int J Eat Disord, 50(11), 1313-1322. doi:10.1002/eat.22781
Gianini L, Roberto CA, Attia E, Walsh BT, Thomas JJ, Eddy KT, Grilo CM, Weigel T, Sysko R. (2017) Mild, moderate, meaningful? Examining the psychological and functioning correlates of DSM-5 eating disorder severity specifiers. Int J Eat Disord, 50(8):906-916. doi: 10.1002/eat.22728
Hildebrandt T, Epstein EE, Sysko R, Bux DA Jr. (2017) Using Factor Mixture Models to Evaluate the Type A/B Classification of Alcohol Use Disorders in a Heterogeneous Treatment Sample. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 41(5):987-997. doi:10.1111/acer.13367
Sysko R, Ojserkis R, Schebendach J, Evans SM, Hildebrandt T, Walsh BT. (2017) Impulsivity and test meal intake among women with bulimia nervosa. Appetite, 1;112:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2017.01.005
Tom Hildebrandt, PsyD, FAED
Chief, Eating and Weight Disorders Program
Director, Hilda and Preston Davis Living Laboratory
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Hildebrandt is a clinical psychologist specializing in treatment and biological basis of eating, weight, and addictive disorders. His clinical focus is on the use of CBT and family-based therapy (FBT) for eating disorders, the novel use of exposure therapy for body image and feeding/eating disorders, and mHealth interventions. He is an active clinician, supervisor, and teacher. His research interests include biological basis of anorexia nervosa and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, contributions of hormones and lipid signals (e.g., endocannabinoids) to eating and anxious behavior/reward learning, and sex differences in eating and addictive disorders. He uses a range of techniques including neuroimaging, laboratory feeding, and electrophysiology. He is a trained statistician with expertise in methods devised to study heterogeneity (e.g., finite mixture models) and novel clinical trial designs (e.g Adaptive Randomized Trials). He is on the editorial board of several top journals (Behaviour Research and Therapy, International Journal of Eating Disorders), elected member of Eating Disorder Research Society (EDRS), and is a board member of Global Foundation for Eating Disorders (GFED). He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 2007 and has over 100 publications. He is also lead in the development of several mHealth interventions for eating disorders, obesity, and bariatric surgery populations and co-investigator on a mobile platform patent. His current focus is on the development of a clinical biobank for eating disorders through the implementation of a living laboratory where patients, clinicians, and researchers work together to develop the next generation of clinical science for the field.
Director of Research, Bariatric Services, and Psychology Externship
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Dr. Sysko is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Eating and Weight Disorders Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She completed her graduate training at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and she was a post-doctoral fellow and faculty member in the Eating Disorders Research Unit at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She received a K award from the NIDDK to examine psychosocial outcomes among adolescents receiving bariatric surgery under the supervision of B. Timothy Walsh, MD. Since joining the Eating and Weight Disorders Program in 2014, Dr. Sysko has helped to execute all major studies, including imaging and treatment research on low weight eating disorders, patients with binge eating symptoms, and individuals pursuing bariatric surgery. The lab’s work is focused on trying to understand the underlying mechanisms of disgust in eating pathology and interventions that might help improve outcomes for individuals with a broad range of eating and weight disorders.
Medical Director, Eating and Weight Disorders Program
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Eve K Freidl is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Medical Director of the Eating and Weight Disorders Program. She joined the faculty in September 2018. Dr. Freidl earned her medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine. She was a resident at Montefiore Medical Center and completed her Child and Adolescent Psychiatry residency at Weill Cornell and Columbia University Medical Centers at New York-Presbyterian. Following clinical training, she received a NIMH T32 post-doctoral research training grant to pursue resarch at Columbia University in affective, anxiety and related disorders. While a research fellow, Dr. Freidl received an American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Pilot Research Award to study genetic contributions to simulation medication side effects of weight loss and growth suppression. She participated in an assessment of adolescent bariatric surgery candidates and research related to the functioning and outcomes of these adolescents. She also gained clinical expertise in the evaluation and psychological and pharmacological treatment of eating disorders. From 2013- 2018 she worked in the faculty at Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CUCARD) and served as medical director. There she specialized in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents and their families with anxiety and eating disorders. Dr. Freidl’s clinical work remains focused on anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Her research interests include treatment development and understanding biological markers that influence illness and treatment outcomes.
Jeneane Solz is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of comorbid eating, anxiety and behavioral disorders in children, adolescents, and young adults. Dr. Solz is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Eating and Weight Disorders Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She has expertise in using evidence based treatments to work collaboratively with families and schools to address an array of child behavioral and emotional disorders. Dr. Solz received her MA and PhD in clinical psychology from Hofstra University. She completed her pre-doctoral internship in the child and adolescent clinical track at Bellevue Hospital Center, and her post-doctoral training at Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CUCARD). Additionally, Dr. Solz is a certified therapist and level 1 trainer in Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) from PCIT International. As an Instructor of Psychology (in Psychiatry) within the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center she continued providing services at CUCARD where she specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy for children that present with comorbid externalizing and internalizing disorders. Dr. Solz’s research interests have focused on parenting stress, the use of technology to enhance behavioral treatments, and on the provision of evidence based treatments in clinical settings. Dr. Solz is a member of the American Psychological Association, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. Dr. Solz has presented her work at several national and international professional organizations including the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, the American Psychological Association, the World Psychiatric Association, and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy International.
Laura A Berner, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Laura Berner is a clinical psychologist interested in how cognitive neuroscience can help us understand eating disorder symptoms. She earned her PhD from Drexel University and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California San Diego Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research. She joined the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai faculty in 2019. Her research aims to understand how altered self-control may promote cycles of binge eating, purging, and restricted eating. To this end, she combines innovative behavioral tasks with structural and functional brain imaging, computational modeling approaches, and self-report and laboratory-based symptom measures. Dr. Berner’s ultimate goals are to build new explanatory models of eating disorders, identify predictors of outcome, and translate research findings to tools for clinical decision-making and novel interventions. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation, the American Psychological Association, and the Academy for Eating Disorders. In addition, Dr. Berner has over a decade of experience assessing and treating adolescents and adults with eating disorders at all levels of care. She is trained in dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, cognitive processing therapy, family-based treatment, and traditional and enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders, personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder
Chinara M Tate, PhD, RD
Director of Nutrition
Chinara Tate is a doctor of behavioral nutrition and registered dietitian (RD) with specific research interest in examining the neural correlates of eating disorders and the neuromodular effects of food. Dr. Tate is the Director of Nutrition at the Eating and Weight Disorders Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Her clinical work as a dietitian is grounded in evidence-based practice with an emphasis on cognitive behavioral coaching, nutrition counseling and individualized nutrition planning. Dr. Tate received two MA’s in Nutrition, Public Health and Neuroscience and received her PhD in behavioral nutrition at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her nutritional philosophies are premised on conducting critical analysis of the existing nutrition and health behavior research so that her clients receive the most accurate information available to become experts in driving their own health and well-being.
Colleen Cook Flannery, PhD
Colleen Cook Flannery is a post-doctoral fellow at the Eating and Weight Disorders Program. Dr. Flannery’s research and clinical interests include brief parent-training interventions, working with patients with self-injury and suicidal ideation, and the relationship between emotion regulation and eating disorders. Dr. Flannery is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Family Therapy (including family-based treatment for eating disorders), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, and Cognitive Behavior Therapy with a specialty in child and adolescent populations.
Deena Peyser, PhD
Deena Peyser is a clinical post-doctoral fellow at the Eating and Weight Disorders program. Dr. Peyser specializes in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and adults with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, substance use disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from Rutgers University where she worked in the Center of Alcohol Studies researching the impact of sex differences on social support and substance use outcomes, with a focus on young mothers with substance use disorders. Dr. Peyser completed her predoctoral internship at the Hudson Valley VA where she treated veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, severe mental illness, and personality disorders. Her current research focuses on testing a novel therapeutic intervention for adolescents with low-weight eating disorders focused on interoceptive exposure.
Trevor C. Griffen, MD, PhD
Trevor Griffen received his ScB in Neuroscience (Hons.) and Psychology from Brown University in Providence, RI, where he was introduced to behavioral neuroscience studying the neurobiology of maternal behavior. He then worked as a research assistant at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA, using genetics to understand the effects of oxidative stress on synaptic transmission. He completed the Medical Scientist Training Program at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in Stony Brook, NY. He received his PhD in Neuroscience after completing his dissertation work in the laboratory of Arianna Maffei, PhD examining developmental and experiential changes in visual cortical circuit function. After completing his MD, Trevor started general psychiatry residency at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY. At Mount Sinai, he shifted his focus from model systems to studying psychiatric illness in humans. His research at the Eating and Weight Disorders Program is focused on the pathophysiology of eating disorders and disentangling the secondary effects of starvation from the psychopathology of anorexia nervosa. Trevor is current Chief Resident for Research in Psychiatry at Mount Sinai and a Leon Levy Fellow in Neuroscience.
Youngjung Rachel Kim, MD, PhD
Resident Psychiatrist and Post-Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Kim is part of the Physician-Scientist Research Track in the Department of Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which supports joint training as a clinician and in postdoctoral research. She came to the U.S. to attend Princeton University, after which she joined the MD/PhD Program at Columbia University. Dr. Kim’s graduate training has focused on metabolism in mouse models of diabetes and obesity with Dr. Lori Sussel. During clinical training in medical school, she collaborated on metabolism projects under the guidance of Dr. Domenico Accili, and worked as part of the Eating Disorders Research Unit at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute with the mentorship of Dr. Laurel Mayer. Since starting residency, she has joined the Eating and Weight Disorders Program to pursue her postdoctoral research with Dr. Tom Hildebrandt. She is currently starting a pilot clinical trial to examine the effects of metabolic dietary intervention on the maintenance of weight restoration in women with anorexia nervosa, and getting specialty psychiatry training in eating disorders with Dr. Eve Freidl. Dr. Kim’s long-term research interest is to decode the key neuroendocrine and metabolic markers that are associated with treatment outcomes in eating and weight disorders, to a point where clinicians can tailor their treatment approach even without specialized training in this field. Outside of work, she is actively pursuing her interests in eating her way through New York City and troubleshooting her cooking experiments
Clinical Research Coordinator
Shehznan Baqui, a native of Dallas, Texas, received his BS in Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas. While at UT Dallas, Shehznan worked as an undergraduate research assistant at UT Southwestern Medical Center and the UTD Center for Brain Health in the laboratory of Dr. John Hart, where he helped coordinate and run EEG studies. After graduation, he worked for several years as a medical scribe in the emergency room, where he was able to gain extensive experience working in a clinical and hospital setting. He attended graduate school at Columbia University, where he worked in the lab of Dr. Ari Shechter and wrote his thesis on the effects of shift-work disorder and received his MS in Human Nutrition in September 2018. At the Mount Sinai Eating and Weight Disorders program, Shehznan helps coordinate the Noom Bariatric Smartphone App research study, where he is involved in active patient recruitment and enrollment, conducting research procedures and participant follow-up to test the effectiveness of a smart phone application on helping patients prepare for weight loss surgery.
Clinical Research Coordinator
Kayla Costello joined the lab in April 2019 as a research volunteer helping with the ANfMRI and Noom studies and in July 2019 moved to a full-time Clinical Research Coordinator position. Previously, Kayla graduated from the University College London with an MSc in Developmental Psychology where she researched adolescent eating disorders. Her other experience includes working as a recovery coach in an adolescent residential eating disorder treatment facility .Kayla currently is coordinating the Noom Bariatric Research study, and provides bariatric psychological evaluations for participants.
Clinical Research Coordinator
Stephanie Millot is a recent UC Berkeley graduate with a BA in Psychology. She has been involved in research for three years and is interested in the behavioral components of eating disorders. She is currently working on collecting a biobank of psychological and physiological data on eating disorders to inform potential markers of eating disorders, best treatment options, and prognosis. She is looking forward to applying to PhD programs in Clinical Psychology.
Clinical Research Coordinator
Thalia Viranda joined the Mount Sinai Eating and Weight Disorders Program in September 2019 to help coordinate the Fasted-Fed Bulimia Nervosa Study, which aims to understand the role of fasting and feeding states on inhibitory control in women with Bulimia Nervosa. Before joining the EWDP lab, Thalia received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology (Hons) from the University of Richmond in May 2019. As an undergraduate, Thalia coordinated an EEG/ERP study investigating factors that influence error monitoring and self-regulatory performance. Thalia’s research interests include self-regulation, reinforcement learning, and how abnormalities in these cognitive-affective processes might influence mental illnesses’ course and maintenance.
Yolande Robertson, MPH
Yolande Robertson joined the Eating and Weight Disorders Program in July 2019 having recently moved from Melbourne, Australia where she worked in the Strategy Unit for the Dean of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She has a Master of Public Health from the University of Sydney, Australia and a background in international development and global health, where she was fortunate enough to work in a number of countries around the world including Bangaldesh, Cambodia and Timor-Leste. Yolande will be focusing on supporting and promoting the clinical and research activities of the Eating and Weight Disorders Program.
For more information or to make an appointment:
1425 Madison Ave. (corner of 98th St. and Madison Ave.)
Icahn Building, Floor 6, Room 32
New York, NY 10029