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Research Labs

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 $8 million to date.

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. Research on self-monitoring is also ongoing, including determining how sharing the data collected by self-monitoring tools with others might facilitate supportive accountability. More recently, the lab is conducting research on diet, weight control, and physical activity as they pertain to cancer prevention and cancer survivorship. Obesity prevention in young or middle-age adults is another major focus of the lab’s work.

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 lab, which is 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, lose weight, and maintain weight loss. Identifying active treatment components and mechanisms of action of these treatments are of particular interest. For instance, we are currently in the midst of Project Activate, a 5-year NIH R01-funded Multiphasic Optimization Trial (MOST) evaluating the independent efficacy of three commonly-used mindfulness and acceptance components.

A large line of research investigates the use of technology to improve health behaviors, and the lab is developing and evaluating computerized (and gamified) neurocognitive training paradigms to improve dietary health (Project DASH), smartphone apps that use machine learning to predict dietary lapses and send personalized alerts in moments of need (OnTrack), and artificial intelligence-based systems that continuously optimize treatments by monitoring digital outcome data (ReLearn). These projects have been funded by NIDDK, NCI, the Obesity Society and a Drexel Area of Research Excellence (DARE) Award.

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.

Contact:

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

Lauren Taylor, Research Coordinator
215.553.7125 | lct42@drexel.edu


Juarascio Lab

The Juarascio 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) and 2) the use of technology to augment existing treatments.

Current studies include:

  1. The Balancing Act Project: An NIDDK R01 focused on evaluating an acceptance based behavioral group treatment for binge eating disorder designed to help individuals both lose weight and reduce binge eating.
  2. The Acquire Project: An NIMH R34 designed to test a novel smartphone app (CBT+) as an augmentation to CBT for bulimia nervosa that is designed to improve skill acquisition and utilization.
  3. The Sense Support Project: An NIMH R43 evaluating a novel smartphone app (SenseSupport) that uses glucose continuous monitoring to detect and intervene on dietary restriction.
  4. The COMPASS Project: An NIMH R01 that uses a Multiphasic Optimization Trial (MOST) to evaluate the independent efficacy of four commonly-used mindfulness and acceptance components (distress tolerance, emotion modulation, mindful awareness, and values-based decision making).
  5. Project Recharge: An NIMH supplement grant designed to evaluate a novel reward re-training treatment designed to address the reward imbalance that may maintain binge eating.

Contact:

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

Mandy Lin, Research Coordinator
215.553.7154 | mlin3598@drexel.edu


Manasse Lab

The Manasse Lab is dedicated to 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 and to 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. Project REACH: This NIDDK-funded trial is designed to test which decision-making processes predict outcomes in a remote, group-based healthy lifestyle intervention for adolescents.
  3. Family Safety Net: This treatment study is assessing the efficacy, feasibility, and acceptability of attachment-based family therapy in adolescents with binge eating and their families.
  4. Project MOMENT: This assessment-only study uses ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to assess within-day and day-to-day variations in disordered eating behavior and a variety of psychological and behavioral phenomena thought to relate to eating patterns (e.g., body image, delay discounting, sleep, engagement in risky behavior, etc.)

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