BEGIN (Binge Eating Genetics INitiative)
BEGIN is the first study of its kind to combine a genome-wide association study with an investigation of microbes across five bodily sites, coupled with capture of behavioral features (binge eating, purging, exercise, sleep) and mood using the Recovery Record app adapted to Apple Watch technology. We will paint a rich biological and behavioral picture of binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa that will allow us to identify genetic and microbiota contributors to disorder risk and maintenance; identify genomic, microbiota, and behavioral predictors of outcome; and to build algorithms that predict behavioral events (e.g., impending binges or purges) to enable real-time intervention via wearable technology.
Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D.
Need/Problem: Binge-eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are serious and costly eating disorders. Our genetic studies on anorexia nervosa are shedding novel light into the metabolic aspects of this psychiatric disorder, but we know essentially nothing about the molecular genetic basis of BN and BED beyond the established twin-based observation that they are highly heritable.
Grant Summary: We will conduct an extremely rapid and large genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 2500 individuals with binge-type eating disorders and matched controls, coupled with five-site microbiota sampling, and deep phenotyping using an eating disorders recovery app programmed on Apple Watches.
Goals & Projected Outcomes: Our goal is to conduct the first and largest study of individuals with binge-type eating disorders that combines genomic and microbiota data with deep phenotyping. Information from these three domains will allow us not only to explore predictors of outcome, but also to build algorithms that predict behavioral events (e.g., impending binges or purges) to be able to intervene in real time via wearable technology.
Grant Details: This project represents a unique academic-industry-foundation partnership including services and materials from Apple (Apple Watches), the National Institute of Mental Health (saliva DNA collection kits), uBiome (5-site microbiota sampling kits and analyses), and partnership with Recovery Record (the largest eating disorders recovery app in the world), and support from the National Eating Disorders Association, the Binge Eating Disorder Association, and the Foundation of Hope.
We are the first study of any illness to combine genome-wide association study with an investigation of microbes across 5 bodily sites, coupled with extensive phenotyping over the period of a month using Apple Watch technology. We will use advanced analytic techniques to combine information from these three domains: genomic, microbiota, and phenotyping to create a rich biological and behavioral picture of binge-type eating disorders. We will then apply that knowledge both to developing novel biologically informed interventions as well as behavioral interventions that utilize the predictive algorithms we develop using the passive and active data collection from the Apple Watches.
BEGIN will allow us to identify genetic and microbiota contributors to disorder risk and maintenance; identify genomic, microbiota, and behavioral predictors of outcome; and to build algorithms that predict behavioral events (e.g., impending binges or purges) to enable real-time intervention via wearable technology.