Evan Forman, PhD, is a professor of psychology and is the founding director of the Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science, or the WELL Center, at Drexel University. His work focuses on designing, refining, implementing and evaluating innovative behavioral and technology-based treatments for obesity and related eating problems. Forman has authored approximately 150 manuscripts, and is the author of the “Effective Weight Loss” books (Clinician Guide and Client Workbook) for Oxford Press’s “Treatments that Work” series. In addition, his research has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for over 10 years. Some of his larger, projects include: Mind Your Health, which is an NIH-funded study evaluating a novel acceptance-based behavioral treatment (ABT) for obesity; Project DASH, which is a National Cancer Institute-funded study evaluating the effect of gamification and of computerized neurocognitive training aimed at helping individuals stay adherent to a healthy diet; OnTrack, an Obesity Society-funded study of a smartphone-based Just-in-Time Adaptive Intervention (JITAI) that uses machine learning to predict and prevent lapses from a weight control diet; and ReLearn, an investigation of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) approach to optimizing intervention features for weight control. He also serves as a co-investigator for several NIH-funded projects including Impact (which is evaluating the extent to which ABTs, in combination with intensive physical activity prescriptions, outperform standard treatment), The Balancing ACT (evaluating whether ABT can augment weight loss outcomes for individuals with binge eating disorder) and BestFit (a Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial to evaluate the efficacy of switching behavioral weight loss non-responders to ABT), CBT+ (evaluating a smartphone system to enhance eating disorder treatment utilization) and FitLink (which is evaluating the efficacy of incorporating digital data sharing into weight loss coaching). In addition, he is currently serving as a mentor/sponsor of three NIH-funded training grants.
Forman was a previous chair of the Committee of Science and Practice for APA Division 12 (Society for Clinical Psychology) and a recent recipient of the ABCT Mentorship Award. He has mentored numerous undergraduate, masters and doctoral students. Notable student awards have included Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Obesity and Eating Disorders Special Interest Group Graduate Student Research Award, National Institutes of Health National Service Research Award (NIH NRSA F31), Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) Meritorious Student Award, Psi Chi Graduate Research Grant, Adelaide M. Delluva Award of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Association for Women in Science, Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (SSCP) Dissertation Award, APAGS/Psi Chi Junior Scientist Fellowship, Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) Early Career Scholarship, American Psychological Association (APA) Theodore H. Blau Early Career Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Clinical Psychology, and the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) Student Research Grant.
Forman’s undergraduate work was conducted at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland. After he achieved his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Rochester, he completed clinical internships and fellowships at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, and the University of Pennsylvania.
How We Make a Difference: Public/Civic Impact:
Almost 70% of Americans are overweight, and, of these, almost 50% are actively attempting to lose weight. Similarly, millions of Americans are attempting to lead healthier lives by making lifestyle modifications such as improving diet and increasing exercise. Unfortunately, due to a combination of our biological hard-wiring combined with the conditions of modern society, making and sustaining such changes is exceptionally difficult. Moreover, even the best interventions for promoting health behavior change fall short.
Forman’s work focuses on identifying new and more effective approaches. In particular, he is developing innovative behavioral and technological approaches that facilitate improvements in health behavior. These range from smartphone apps that learn our individual patterns of behavior and are able to nudge us to make healthy choices at just the right moment, AI systems that optimize coaching to what we need over time, behavioral interventions that merge western science with ancient Eastern mindfulness practices and “brain training” games that help us resist unhealthy impulses. Forman attempts to share his work through books for clinicians and the public, smartphone apps and media appearances.