Last week marked the launch of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI) study (http://www.unceatingdisorders.org/angi). ANGI is an international research effort, with research teams at UNC and in Denmark, Sweden, and Australia working together to unlocking the mystery of anorexia nervosa. From decades of research, we know that genes influence the risk for anorexia. Early family studies found that first degree relatives of individuals with anorexia were 11 times more likely to develop AN during their lifetime than relatives of individuals with no history of anorexia (Strober et al., 2000). Later work has suggested that the heritability of anorexia, or the proportion of observable differences in anorexia between individuals due to genetic factors, is between 28% and 74% (Trace et al., 2013). However, the specific genes be contributing to anorexia nervosa risk are still unknown.
The goal of ANGI is to finally identify these genes. ANGI will recruit over 8,000 individuals with current or past history of anorexia, as well as individuals with no history of an eating disorder. Participants are asked to provide clinical information and blood samples. From this information, we will be able to explore whether there are specific genes that may increase risk for the development of anorexia. One of the most exciting aspects of ANGI is that individuals have the ability to participate from anywhere in the US! If you cannot come in to UNC, we can mail a sample kit to you and help arrange to have your blood drawn at your local laboratory at no cost to you. To say thanks, we’ll send you a $25 Amazon.com gift card! Together, we can work towards finding the cause and the cure for anorexia nervosa.
If you are interested in participating in ANGI, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-966-3065.
Strober, M., Freeman, R., Lampert, C., Diamond, J., & Kaye, W. (2000). Controlled family study of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: evidence of shared liability and transmission of partial syndromes. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 393-401.
Trace, S.E., Baker, J.H., Peñas-Lledó E, Bulik, C.M. (2013). The genetics of eating disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 589-620.