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Understanding social, genetic and environmental risks factors across eating disorders.

Project Description

Eating disorders are severe psychiatric illnesses associated with greatly reduced quality of life (Ágh et al., 2016) and increased mortality, rendering them the most lethal psychiatric disorders (Chesney, Goodwin, & Fazel, 2014). The overarching aim of this joint KCL and Beat charity project is to explore the social and environmental risk factors for eating disorder using a re­contactable resource of individuals with a lifetime diagnosis of eating disorders. Specifically, this is the UK Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) which launches in Feb 2018 ( and Charlotte’s Helix, which, together will allow the student to contact >5000 individuals with lived experience of eating disorders. This is modelled on the Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression project (, which is also led by the primary supervisor.

EDGI has been designed in collaboration with our primary partner, Beat, the UK’s biggest eating disorder charity, who are also our partners on this studentship. The student would spend 1 day per week at Beat, working with the team. We have previously worked in partnership with a parent ­led eating disorder charity, Charlotte’s Helix (, and found that individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa are keen to participate in research through online registration, successfully recruiting >1,000 participants with a lifetime diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. Now, our partnership with the UK’s largest eating disorder charity, Beat (, is allowing us to recruit participants with experience of other eating disorders ­­ bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Beat will also help publicise EDGI and host a page about the project on their website and the student will spend 1 day per week working at the Beat offices in London.

Specifically, this ESRC funded studentship will examine (i) the different associations between social risk factors (e.g. childhood trauma, social media use) and eating disorders diagnosis and severity; (ii) the influence of health seeking behaviour (e.g. exercise) on eating disorder risk; (iii) the influence of social support networks on outcomes; and (iv) does the integration of genetic risk factors add to the prediction of outcomes?

The ideal candidate will be keen to apply multidisciplinary methods in their research, will be passionate about research into eating disorders and to engage with individuals with lived experience of eating disorders.

Studentship format: either +3 (PhD only) or 1+3 (Master’s + PhD). Applicants for the +3 format must meet our core research methods training requirements ( For the 1+3 format, the required Master’s is the Genes, Environment & Development in Psychiatry and Psychology (GED-PP;

Funding Notes

Please contact the supervisors directly with any questions (). LISS DTP () can answer any general questions regarding application process, core methods training requirements etc.

To be accepted, all CASE studentship applications must include:

1. A completed ESRC LISS DTP Collaborative (CASE) Application Form
View Website
2. A copy of your CV
3. Two academic references, or 1 academic and 1 professional reference (these should be sent directly to by your referees)
4. Copies of transcripts for all relevant degrees

These materials should be sent BOTH to and the project academic lead by the deadline of 1st March 2019


See the prototype project webpage for more information.

How good is research at King’s College London in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 238.88

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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