Please join us: Monday, July 25 at 7:30 PM
Presenter: Stephanie Zerwas, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders
Title: It’s All Relative: Eating Disorders and Genetics
Description: For the past 30 years, research has demonstrated that eating disorders run in families due to genetic factors. Although genetics is not destiny and does not determine who will struggle with an eating disorder, genetic factors can increase the risk of developing these diseases. In addition, recent developments in molecular genetics have made it increasingly clear that not just one gene increases the risk for eating disorders. Instead, eating disorders are polygenic (e.g., thousands of risk genes when combined together increase risk). Ultimately, molecular genetic approaches will allow us to calculate each individual’s genetic risk for an eating disorder and to personalize treatment based on genetic predisposition.
From a patient perspective, connecting the dots between genetics and environment can be challenging to weave into recovery. It is often difficult to understand that the eating disorder is ‘not your fault,’ but fully comprehending how genetics can play a role in one’s illness can also help alleviate that guilt and shame.
However, integrating research knowledge of genetics into treatment will require sensitivity to how: a) patients understand how genetic risks are expressed, and b) the discussion of genetic risk is woven into clinical practice. This presentation will address the cutting-edge science of eating disorder genetics, how therapists can talk about genetic risk and patient interpretations of genetic research in eating disorders.
Location: The office of Dr. Lauren Muhlheim (4929 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 245, Los Angeles) – free parking in the lot (enter on Highland)
Bio: Stephanie Zerwas, PhD is the Clinical Director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders. A clinical and developmental psychologist, Dr. Zerwas works as a family-based therapist and as a researcher studying the genetics of eating disorders. She is a member of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium – Anorexia Nervosa Working Group. In addition, Dr. Zerwas studies the factors that predict recovery from anorexia nervosa, eating disorders during pregnancy and postpartum, and how technology can assist eating disorder treatment and research. She is a TEDx speaker and passionate about translating eating disorders science to patients and the public.
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