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WELL Center Research Labs

People eating healthy food at a table

The Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science (WELL) Center is an interdisciplinary clinical research center focused on the problems of obesity, poor diet, sedentariness and disordered eating. Research in the WELL Center aims to develop, test and disseminate new behavioral and technological solutions to these problems. The WELL Center provides opportunities in eating disorder research, weight loss research and healthy lifestyle research to both graduate and undergraduate psychology students, as well as NIH-funded post-doctoral positions. The Center is also home to the WELL Clinic, a state-of-the-art clinic offering evidence-based treatment for weight and eating disorders to members of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Several faculty labs are based in the WELL Center.

Learn More About the WELL Center

Meghan Butryn Lab

The primary aim of Meghan Butryn’s lab is to improve the efficacy of lifestyle modification programs for adults, particularly for those who are overweight or obese. The Butryn lab uses behavioral principles to understand the challenges of eating a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity, and creates innovations in intervention programs by integrating the latest advances in scientific theory as well as technology. Butryn’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her projects have been awarded a total of $6.6 million to date.

The Butryn Lab has developed a line of research integrating acceptance-based skills (i.e., those drawn from acceptance and commitment therapy) into lifestyle modification programs, including treatments for obesity and those focused primarily on physical activity promotion. The lab has a strong interest in understanding how individuals can most effectively manage aspects of the obesogenic environment. The home food environment is of particular interest as an intervention target. Within the lab, there has been research identifying ways in which self-monitoring is important as an aspect of lifestyle modification.

Currently, the lab is studying how sharing the data collected by self-monitoring tools, which is increasingly feasible given technological advances, might facilitate supportive accountability in a way that enhances the efficacy of treatment. Finally, Butryn’s lab has an interest in prevention, from both eating disorder and obesity perspectives.

Contact:

Meghan Butryn, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology
215.553.7108 | mlb34@drexel.edu

Laura D'Adamo, Research Coordinator
215.553.7161 | lad374@drexel.edu


Forman Lab

The Forman research lab, which part of the Center for Weight Eating and Lifestyle Science (the WELL Center), develops and evaluates innovative behavioral- and technology-based interventions for health behavior change. One line of research is concerned with infusing behavioral weight loss treatment with acceptance- and mindfulness-based approaches, and evaluating the extent to which this treatment helps people make difficult behavioral changes, to lose weight and to maintain weight loss. Identifying active treatment components and mechanisms of action of these treatments are of particular interest.

In addition, the lab seeks to understand the implicit and explicit processes governing in-the-moment decision-making around eating, including through the use of mobile-phone based ecological momentary assessments and neuropsychological assessments. A large line of research investigates the use of technology to improve health behaviors, and the lab has developed and evaluated computerized (and gamefied) neurocognitive training paradigms to improve dietary health, smartphone apps that use machine learning to predict dietary lapses and send personalized alerts in moments of need, and artificial intelligence-based systems that continuously optimize treatments by monitoring digital outcome data. Lab projects are funded by NIDDK, NCI, the Obesity Society and a Drexel Area of Research Excellence (DARE) Award.

Contact:

Evan Forman, PhD, Director of the WELL Center, Professor of Psychology
215.553.7113 | emf27@drexel.edu

Alex Forde, Research Coordinator
215.553.7125 | ajf393@drexel.edu


Juarascio Lab

The Juarascio research Lab is focused on the development and evaluation of novel treatment approaches for eating disorders. Treatment development focuses largely on two areas:

  1. the use of acceptance-based behaviors treatment approaches to improve factors that maintain eating pathology (e.g. emotion dysregulation, impulsivity, altered patterns of reward sensitivity)
  2. the use of technology to augment existing treatments

Current research projects include NIH funded clinical trials focused on:

  1. an acceptance-based behavioral treatment for bulimia nervosa
  2. an acceptance based behavioral weight loss treatment for binge eating disorder
  3. a novel smartphone app designed to improve skill acquisition and utilization in CBT for bulimia nervosa

In addition to these projects, we also have a number of non-clinical trial projects ongoing such as a recently funded project through the Hilda and Preston Davis foundation that involves testing whether continuous glucose monitoring could be used to detect compliance with regular eating interventions and disordered eating symptoms in bulimia nervosa.

Contact:

Adrienne Juarascio, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology
215.553.7154 | asj32@drexel.edu

Megan Michael, Research Coordinator
215.553.7154 | megan.l.michael@drexel.edu


Manasse Lab

The Manasse Lab is dedicated to:

  1. using novel methodology (e.g. psychophysiological measures, ecological momentary assessment) to understand impulsivity- and affect-related maintenance factors and predictors of treatment outcome for eating disorders
  2. developing and testing novel technological and behavioral treatments for adults and adolescents with eating disorders

Current studies include:

  1. Project REBOOT: This NIMH-funded trial is testing the effects of an adjunctive, personalized, computerized inhibitory control training on facilitating rapid response to cognitive behavioral therapy for individuals with DSM-5 bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.
  2. TakeControlVR: Funded by the Coulter-Drexel Translational Research Partnership, this study aims to develop and evaluate a virtual reality-based inhibitory control training for participants with clinically significant binge eating.
  3. Project BEAT: This pilot study seeks to examine affective predictors of treatment response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, including a 4-session exposure module, for adolescents with clinically significant binge eating.

The lab is also running a number of other studies, including the validation of a novel computerized assessment paradigm which uses psychophysiological measurement (eg., increases in heart rate and skin conductance) to better understand fear of weight gain.

Contact:

Stephanie Manasse, PhD, Assistant Research Professor
215.553.7157 | smm522@drexel.edu

Adam Payne-Reichert, Research Coordinator
215.553.7125 | amp572@drexel.edu


Learn more about the WELL Center