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Susan Carnell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Research Interests: Neuroimaging; Child obesity; Obesity; Eating behavior; Eating disorders; Appetite; Genetics; Parent feeding; Stress; Gut hormones
Susan Carnell received her BA in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford and completed a PhD in Health Psychology focusing on parental feeding style and children's eating behavior at University College London. She was then awarded an ESRC/MRC Interdisciplinary Post-doctoral Research Fellowship, in which she used behavioral genetic data from a national twin study to examine genetic and environmental influences on child appetite and obesity. Following this, she moved to the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at Columbia University where she spearheaded studies of circadian and stress-related variation in neural (fMRI) and hormonal responses to food and food cues among obese and lean adults with and without binge eating. Here she was also awarded a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award to investigate neural responses to food cues in obese and lean adolescents varying in familial and genetic obesity risk. In 2013 she became faculty at the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, where she leads a program of research investigating eating behavior and obesity throughout the lifespan, including neuroimaging studies in infants, children and adolescents.
- Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Centers & Institutes
- B.A., University of Oxford (England) (2000)
- Ph.D., University College London (England) (2005)
University College London, London, England, 2007, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Health Behaviour Research Center; Columbia University, New York City, New York, 2013, New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, St. Luke''s-Roosevelt Hospital
Research & Publications
Why do some people become obese while others remain lean? We propose that individuals differ in appetite-related characteristics that manifest early in life, show genetic influence, and interact with environmental factors (e.g. family feeding practices) to predict eating behavior and weight.
To understand more about the character and origins of these characteristics (e.g. food cue responsiveness, satiety sensitivity), my lab uses a range of methods including behavioral tests, self- and parent-report questionnaires, genotyping, hormonal assays, and neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, MRI, PET).
Ongoing research projects include investigations of appetite and body weight in infants, children, adolescents and adults, including studies of eating behavior in anorexia nervosa, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, cystic fibrosis, and individuals undergoing bariatric surgery.
We are conducting a research study in children (4-13 y old) and their biological mothers. The study involves two visits for 3-4 hours each, and includes fMRI scan (child only), body composition measurements (height, weight, waist), questionnaires, computer tasks, buffet meals, and saliva collection. Compensation is up to $125, plus $10 travel costs for each visit. If interested, please call 410-955-5099 or email Appetite@jhu.edu.
Carnell S, Grillot C, Ungredda T, Ellis S, Mehta N, J Holst & Geliebter A (2017) Morning and afternoon appetite and appetite hormone responses to meal and stress challenges in obese individuals with and without Binge Eating Disorder. International Journal of Obesity. Epub ahead of print 2017 Dec 13. PMID: 29235554
Carnell S, Benson L, Chang K, Wang Z, Huo Y, Geliebter A & Peterson BS (2017) Neural correlates of familial obesity risk and overweight in adolescence. Neuroimage, 159, 236-247. PMID: 28754348
Dinkevich E, Leid L, Pryor K, Wei Y, Huberman H & Carnell S (2015) Mothers' feeding behaviors in infancy: do they predict child weight trajectories? Obesity, 23(12):2470-2476. Epub Nov 5. PMID: 26537027
Carnell S, Haworth CMA, Plomin R & Wardle J (2008) Genetic influence on appetite in children. International Journal of Obesity, 32, 1468-1473. PMID: 18679413
Carnell S & Wardle J (2007) Measuring behavioural susceptibility to obesity: validation of the Child Eating Behaviour Questionnaire. Appetite, 48, 104-113. PMID: 16962207
Activities & Honors
- New Investigator award finalist, International Association for the Study of Obesity, 2010
- Ethan Sims Young Investigator award finalist, The Obesity Society, 2010
- Student Researcher Award for PhD work on parental feeding style and child obesity, UK Association for the Study of Obesity, 2005
- Society for Study of Ingestive Behavior
- The Obesity Society
- Blogger, PsychologyToday.com
Videos & Media
Recent News Articles and Media Coverage
- Binge Eating at Night? Your Hormones May Be to Blame, The New York Times (January 30, 2018)
- How to lose weight? Get your brain under control, The Boston Globe (August 23, 2017)
- When Fatty Feasts Are Driven by Automatic Pilot, The New York Times (July 11, 2011)
- Eating to Live or Living to Eat? The Wall Street Journal (July 13, 2010)
- British study finds genetic link to child obesity, The Guardian (February 12 2008)