A new National Eating Disorder Research and Translation Centre will be developed, led by University of Sydney’s InsideOut Institute, and supported by a research consortium of partners, including Orygen, Black Dog Institute, and seven other universities and institutes*.
The Centre is supported by a $13m investment over four years from the Australian Government to coordinate a national approach to eating disorder research and translate findings into practice. It will build capacity in the eating disorder research workforce and support research to improve how eating disorders are diagnosed and treated.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses, with suicide being one of the leading causes of death for those with eating disorders. The risk of suicidal thinking and behaviour is heightened for those with an eating disorder, with estimates that one quarter to one third of people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa have attempted suicide.
In a media release from Orygen's Executive Director, Professor Patrick McGorry said the award of the grant to support a long overdue wave of innovation and research in eating disorders could not have come at a more critical time with a new surge in eating disorders during the pandemic.
The Butterfly Foundation, Australia’s national charity to support those with eating disorders and their friends and families, have recently conducted a comprehensive literature review to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on eating disorders. Those living with diagnosed eating disorders, as well as children and adolescents, were at the highest risk of relapsing into eating disorders during the pandemic. The Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline received a 48% increase from the financial year ending in 2020 (pre-covid) compared to the financial year ending in 2021.
Associate Professor Sarah Maguire, Director at InsideOut said that the funding announcement, “is about the future. It’s about supporting and enabling much-needed scientific breakthroughs that help prevent illness, that get people better and ensure our treatments don’t inadvertently cause harm.”
*National partners include Orygen, Latrobe University, Monash University, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Australian National University, Deakin University, Black Dog Institute, University of Western Australia, University of Queensland (Institute for Molecular Bioscience) and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.