Candidate: I am a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin (UW). Career Goals: My ultimate goal is to combine my clinical expertise with training in genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics, which will allow me to develop sophisticated risk prediction models for eating- and activity-related risk in psychiatry. Investigations that combine genetic information with detailed epidemiological data will improve understanding of etiology, enhance detection and diagnosis, and lead to novel interventions for psychiatric illness. Career Development: I request support for mentored training to build skills in four areas: (1) genetic and biological risk for health-related behaviors; (2) longitudinal data analysis; (3) genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics; and (4) professional development as a junior faculty member. Research Project: This study leverages existing data resources from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) along with GWAS summary statistics from several large epidemiological studies. The primary aim of this project will be to map genetic and developmental risk for driven exercise, a common and understudied feature of eating disorders. First, I will identify and characterize physical activity trajectories from late childhood through emerging adulthood in ALSPAC and capture associations between these trajectories and driven exercise and eating disorder risk. Second, I will examine the relationship between driven exercise and eating disorder psychopathology, both in ALSPAC and in the PGC. Finally, I will use genomic structural equation modeling to determine the extent to which driven exercise reflects genetic predispositions to theoretically-linked traits. These results will inform future my independent applications (R01s) that explore unique contributions of genes and environment to predict risk for dysregulated eating and activity patterns in psychiatric illness. Environment: The proposed training and research will occur at UW and includes collaborations with the international power of the PGC and top-notch researchers in the fields of genetic epidemiology, eating disorders, exercise psychology, and statistical genetics. Mentorship: The mentorship team will be led by Dr. Corinne Engelman, whose research focuses on genetic epidemiology of complex human traits. Dr. Cynthia Bulik, co-mentor, is an internationally recognized expert in eating disorder research and co-chair of the eating disorders workgroup of the PGC. Dr. Nadia Micali, co-mentor, has been the lead eating disorder resource on the ALSPAC cohort for the past 20 years. Dr. Dane Cook, collaborator, has expertise in the psychobiology of exercise. Dr. Qiongshi Lu, collaborator, has specialized knowledge in statistical genetics, including methods proposed in this application, and Dr. Cathryn Lewis, collaborator, is a world-renowned expert in statistical genetics. Their combined mentorship will position me to succeed as an independent investigator with a powerful skillset?the ability to apply statistical genetics to clinically-relevant research questions that will elucidate links between health-related behaviors and psychiatric risk.
Driven exercise is a common and understudied feature of eating disorders that can indicate poor disorder prognosis and undermine recovery. While research supports genetic contributions to and correlation between eating disorders and physical activity, little is known about the genetic and developmental underpinnings of driven exercise. Identifying genetic and phenotypic associations with driven exercise will advance our theoretical understanding of this behavior and aid in developing sophisticated risk prediction models that could ultimately inform intervention development for eating disorders and related conditions.