Hildebrandt Laboratory

Hildebrandt Laboratory

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.

Hildebrandt Laboratory
Tom Hildebrandt
Chief, Eating and Weight Disorders Program
Director, Hilda and Preston Davis Living Laboratory
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
tom.hildebrandt@mssm.edu

Research

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. 

Participation Involves:

  • Diagnostic intake
  • Computerized tasks and meal tasks
  • Blood draw
  • fMRI scan and HRV measures
  • Participants are reimbursed for their time

If you would like more information or want to discuss participating, contact Annabel Susanin at 212-659-8724 or via email annabel.susanin@mssm.edu

Gastric Rhythm and Parasympathetic Arousal in Eating Disorders

We are examining differences in gastric rhythm in the stomach by diagnostic group and these signals in response to water load, standardized meal, and food-cue learning. Eligible participants include people with and without eating disorders between the ages of 12 and 60.

Participation Involves:

  • Interviews and questionnaires
  • Computerized tasks and water/food tasks
  • ECG/EGG measures
  • Participants are reimbursed for their time.

If you would like more information or want to discuss participating, contact Alli Boyar at 212-659-8724 or via email allison.boyar@mssm.edu

Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Treatment of Low Weight Eating Disorders

We are running a 4-week trial comparing pre-meal vagal nerve stimulation to pre-meal sham stimulation. Previous research has shown that vagal nerve stimulation (non-invasive electrical current run through one’s ear) can influence gastric motility. We plan to measure the effects of this stimulation on eating and gastric parameters on adolescents with low weight eating disorders between the ages of 14 and 17.

Participation Involves:

  • Interviews and questionnaires
  • Non-Invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation
  • Stomach Measurements
  • Meals
  • Participants are reimbursed for their time

If you would like more information or want to discuss participating, contact Alli Boyar at 212-659-8724 or via email allison.boyar@mssm.edu

Brain Aromatase and Inhibitory Control in Bulimia Nervosa

We are studying the role of aromatase in inhibitory control in adults with bulimia nervosa.  The study will examine whether aromatase will be different across groups of people and whether the signals for this system are less responsive in your body and brain due to eating behaviors.

Participation Involves:

  • Interviews and questionnaires
  • 1 PET/MRI brain scan with an Aromatase ligand
  • Computerized tasks and meal tasks
  • Participants are reimbursed for their time

If you would like more information or want to discuss participating, contact Malka Sears at 212-659-8724 or via email malka.sears@mssm.edu

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.

Participation Involves:

  • 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.

If you would like more information or want to discuss participating, contact Chinara Tate at 212-659-8724 or via email chinara.tate@mssm.edu

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 thalia.viranda@mssm.edu.

ABCD: Gonadal Hormones and the Development of Binge Eating

Using data from the longitudinal Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, we are testing if there are measurable sex differences in the development of binge eating behaviors and binge eating disorder.  We predict that gonadal hormones have a significant impact on the development of these behaviors.  We are using computational methods to examine changes over time and the influence that gonadal hormones might have on neurocircuitry.

Noom Weight Loss

We are studying the long-term impact of a successful commercially available weight loss app (Noom Health) in comparison to a Digital Education Program (Noom Digital Health) for weight loss, quality of life, psychosocial functioning, and self-reported health status.

Recruitment for this study is now closed.

Publications

For a comprehensive and up to date list of our publications, please visit:

Our Team

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.

Robyn Sysko, PhD

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.

Eve Khlyavich Freidl, MD

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, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

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.

Deena Peyser, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Deena Peyser is an assistant Professor of Psychiatry. 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.

Malka Sears, Post-doctoral Fellow

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Malka Sears is a post-doctoral fellow at the Eating and Weight Disorders Program. Dr. Sears received her PhD in clinical psychology with a health emphasis from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at Bellevue Hospital Center. Dr. Sears is trained in dialectical behavior therapy, family based treatment for eating disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and psychosis.

Her clinical work focuses on assessment and treatment for avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding or eating disorders. Dr. Sears’s clinical approach utilizes evidence based approaches and synthesizes research as a guide to effective treatment planning, interventions, and goal setting. She has clinical expertise in providing family skills based treatment for young children and adolescents with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Dr. Sears’s research interests have previously focused on vulnerability factors that exacerbate cognitive dysfunction and exploring the impact of baseline cognitive performance on receptiveness to cognitive behavioral therapy interventions. Her current research focuses on disentangling the overlap between anxiety disorders and eating disorders by developing a new clinical anxiety measure. She wants to further understanding potential mechanisms that maintain psychopathology to better inform treatment planning.

 

Contact details: malka.sears@mssm.edu

Trevor C. Griffen, MD, PhD

Resident Physician

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.

Kayla Costello

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.

Contact Details:

kayla.costello@mssm.edu

(212) 659-8724

Allison Boyar

Clinical Research Coordinator

(212) 659-8724

Allison Boyar joined Mount Sinai’s Eating and Weight Disorders program in December 2020 to coordinate Noom Health for Weight Management. In addition to Noom, she currently coordinates the Gastric Rhythm study and the Vagus Nerve Stimulation study. Prior to joining the EWDP, Allison attended Cornell University where she majored in Human Development. Her research interests include the integration of electrophysiology with eating disorder treatment and broad anxiety research.

Contact Details:

allison.boyar@mssm.edu

(212) 659-8724

Annabel Susanin

Clinical Research Coordinator

(212) 659-8724

Annabel Susanin joined Mount Sinai’s Eating and Weight Disorders program in July 2021. She currently coordinates the Living Laboratory project, which aims to collect a biobank of eating disorder information to identify potential psychological and physiological markers of eating disorders, best treatment options, and prognosis. Prior to joining the EWDP, Annabel worked on a study examining the effect of maternal postpartum depression on child development at Northwestern University’s Mothers & Babies lab. Her research interests include treatment outcomes for low-weight eating disorders and women’s health. Annabel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University.

 

Contact Details:

annabel.susanin@mssm.edu

(212) 659-8724

Thalia Viranda

Clinical Research Coordinator

(212) 659-8799

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.

Contact Details:

thalia.viranda@mssm.edu

(212) 659-8724

Jessica Bibeau, MA, PMP

Project Manager

Jessica Bibeau is the project manager in the Eating and Weight Disorders Program. She has over 20 years of experience in research/project management for NIH-, industry-, and internally-funded research in the areas of weight loss, skin cancer prevention, mhealth, social media, and eating disorders. Additionally, she conducts workshops, trainings, and consultations to train new managers on formal project management techniques applied in academic research. Jessica is responsible for regulatory approvals and submissions, multi-site communication, developing and ensuring adherence to the standard operating procedures, overseeing data management, managing staffing, and budgetary monitoring

Contact Details:

jessica.bibeau@mssm.edu

Allison Falkenberg, LCSW

Clinical Program Coordinator

(212) 659-8724

Allison Falkenberg is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Mount Sinai Center for Excellence. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work at The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and joined the Mount Sinai Health System in 2017. She provides clinical and administrative leadership, provides services to those with eating and weight disorders and supervises the clinical practice of other social workers. In addition, Allison currently specializes in the diagnostic assessment process of children and adults with eating disorders and is the clinic’s primary program coordinator for all new patient referrals.

Contact Details:

allison.falkenberg@mssm.edu

(212) 659-8724

Sabrina Shih, LMSW

Outreach Social Worker

(212) 659-8724

Sabrina Shih is a Licensed Master Social Worker at the Mount Sinai Center for Excellence in Eating and Weight Disorders. She received her Master’s Degree in Science and Social Work at Columbia University. She joined the Mount Sinai Health System in 2021. She provides outreach coordination and clinical services, including diagnostic assessments, psychotherapeutic interventions, and treatment planning, for children and adults with eating disorders. In addition, Sabrina also serves as the center’s liaison for outreach and community initiatives.

Contact Details:

sabrina.shih@mountsinai.org 

(212) 659-8724

For more information or to make an appointment:
Tel: 212-659-8724
Fax: 212-849-2561

Email: ewdpresearch@mssm.edu

Address
1425 Madison Ave. (corner of 98th St. and Madison Ave.)
Icahn Building, Floor 6, Room 32
New York, NY 10029