InsideOut Institute to lead national eating disorder research centre with $13m Federal grant awarded to University of Sydney

22 January 2022

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InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders, a partnership between the University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health District, will lead a national consortium of partners to develop the Centre and implement the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy.

InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders, a partnership between the University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health District, will lead a national consortium of partners to develop the Centre and implement the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Strategy.

The Centre will coordinate a national approach to eating disorder research and translate findings into practice, with the goal of reducing the burden on Australians living with an eating disorder and their loved ones.

Eating disorders are serious, complex mental illnesses with significant physical and mental health impacts, high mortality rates and low rates of detection. It is estimated that approximately 1 million Australians are living with an eating disorder, which is 4 percent of the population. Eating disorders also have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness.

The Centre will be led by InsideOut Institute, and will be supported by a research ecosystem within the university and a consortium of national partners.

National consortium of partners led by InsideOut: Orygen, Australian National University, University of Queensland, Black Dog Institute, Monash University, VIC Gov, University of Western Australia, University of Sydney, Deakin University, QIMR Berghofer, NSW Health

InsideOut Director Associate Professor Sarah Maguire said until recently, research innovation in the field of eating disorders has been hampered by insufficient resourcing and a lack of coherent vision and plan – with today’s announcement being an important first step in addressing inequities in funding for eating disorder research and translation.

“InsideOut is honoured to lead the national consortium to drive this change,” said Associate Professor Maguire.

“There has been a lot of government investment in treatment services for people with eating disorders in recent years. This is of course fantastic and more is needed, but without research and the translation of research into practice, we cannot prevent illness, nor improve treatments and health outcomes.”

“This 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.”

– Associate Professor Sarah Maguire, InsideOut Director

Major University of Sydney partners in the research ecosystem include the Charles Perkins Centre, Brain and Mind Centre, Lambert Initiative, Sydney Policy Lab, the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Faculty of Science.

Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, said:

“Having the Australian Eating Disorder Research and Translation Centre based at the Charles Perkins Centre with colleagues at InsideOut Institute and in collaboration with the Brain and Mind Centre and the Faculties of Medicine and Health and Science represents a major step in our rich multidisciplinary strategy at the University of Sydney to address the enormous challenges to health and wellbeing posed by disordered eating.”

Professor Patrick McGorry, executive director of Orygen, which will be a lead partner in the national consortium said:

“Orygen is delighted to have the opportunity to work in a collaborative partnership with Inside Out at the University of Sydney to create a fresh approach to the understanding, prevention and treatment of eating disorders.”

Professor Pat McGorry, Executive Director of Orygen said, "The award of this Research Grant to the University of Sydney and partners, including Orygen, 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."

“We are very grateful to the Federal government for devoting vital new research funding to this neglected public health priority.”

Professor Ian Hickie, co-director of the Brain and Mind Centre said there is an urgent need for really novel and truly innovative research that can save lives that are otherwise lost or ruined by these devastating disorders.

“This Centre will strive for major breakthroughs, with particular emphasis on those interventions that can be delivered early in the course of illness, at scale, and lead to sustained recovery.”

InsideOut Director Professor Stephen Touyz says the Australian Government Department of Health should be commended for this investment.

“For the first time, this centre will bring together the country’s leading researchers to develop an integrated research agenda to transform the lives of those with the lived experience of an eating disorder.”

“Unfortunately, current treatments for people with eating disorders confer benefit for some but others suffer endlessly with the debilitating effect of these illnesses. New innovations in treatment are sorely needed. This initial funding is an important start.”

“Building on the advances of genetics and neuroscience and the digital revolution are we now have the opportunity and momentum to generate breakthroughs in treatment. The journey has well and truly begun,” Professor Touyz says.

All of the Centre’s activities will be informed by people with lived experience of eating disorders and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“I feel honoured to have been asked to co-lead the Lived Experience Program work stream, which InsideOut is proposing.” said Shannon Calvert, lived experience advisor at InsideOut Institute.


Research can transform people's lives.

The Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the National Leadership in Mental Health program.

Lead Agency, InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders, is a joint venture between the Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney