Denise E. Wilfley, PhD
Scott Rudolph University Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychological & Brain Sciences
Director, Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness
Denise Wilfley, PhD, is the Scott Rudolph University Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychological & Brain Sciences and the director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Since 1993, she has been awarded more than $30 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a programmatic line of research examining the etiology, prevention, and treatment of obesity and eating disorders in children and adults. Her research program has made substantial contributions to this field, including the classification, characterization, assessment, and risk factors of eating and weight-related disorders; the development of effective treatments for individuals suffering from such disorders; and the development of innovative and cost-effective methods for early intervention and prevention of eating- and weight-related disorders. Through her numerous NIH-funded clinical trials, she has demonstrated an extensive and successful track record in directing clinical research programs and in mentoring and training the future generation of clinical researchers. Wilfley has received numerous research awards, including an NIH FIRST Independent Research Award and a K24 Mid-Career Investigator award. She also holds leadership roles in numerous professional communities, which allows her to spearhead national and international conversations to advance cutting-edge science and advocacy on obesity and eating disorders. She is a fellow of The Obesity Society (TOS), the premier scientific society dedicated to research on the causes and treatment of obesity. She also serves as TOS Clinical Care Councilor, is a Past Chair of the Pediatric Obesity Section of TOS, and is an active member of the TOS Advocacy Committee. In addition, Wilfley is a fellow of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) and a Past President of the Eating Disorders Research Society (EDRS), the leading international organization of eating disorders researchers. She was appointed to the American Psychological Association’s Guideline Development Panel for obesity, which convenes experts to develop a clinical treatment guideline for obesity across the lifespan. She also currently serves as the Co-Chair of the State of Missouri Children’s Services Commission Subcommittee on Childhood Obesity. She recently presented five key recommendations for addressing the public health crisis of childhood obesity in Missouri to the commission, which will be disseminated to key legislators, state agency directors, and industry leaders to enact policy change. In addition, Wilfley serves on the Advisory Boards for the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight, as well as the Minnesota and Alabama Obesity Nutrition Obesity Research Centers (NORCs).
Wilfley has developed treatments focused on early intervention and prevention in high-risk populations and is a key leader in translating these evidence-based interventions into community settings, with the aim of increasing adoption of evidence-based treatment and access to care and informing stakeholder decisions. She has documented the efficacy of family-based behavioral treatment for obesity, pioneering the use of social facilitation to improve sustainability of weight loss. She is devoted to understanding the mechanisms by which treatments work and translating basic behavioral science findings into novel treatment approaches to improve outcomes. Wilfley is evaluating novel treatment delivery models, including the effectiveness of online and mobile interventions and support tools, to increase scalability of access to evidence-based care.
Ellen Fitzsimmons-Craft, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Ellen Fitzsimmons-Craft, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine and a licensed psychologist and certified Health Service Provider in the state of Missouri. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed her predoctoral internship at The University of Chicago Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine. Fitzsimmons-Craft’s primary research interests involve the etiology and maintenance of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, with particular interest in the influence of sociocultural factors on such pathology (e.g., social comparison). She is especially intrigued by the high rates of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating found in certain vulnerable groups (e.g., college women) and factors that may contribute to this. Fitzsimmons-Craft is also interested in eating disorder recovery and the evidence-based prevention and treatment of eating disorders and obesity, including the use of technology for intervention delivery. Her work aims to disseminate evidence-based interventions for eating disorders from research to practice as well as extend treatments in ways that will reach the large number of people in need of care for eating disorders but who are not receiving services.
Lauren Fowler, PhD
Lauren Fowler, PhD, is a research faculty in the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness. Fowler received her PhD in applied social psychology from the George Washington University in 2018, and her BS in mathematics with a concentration in statistics and psychology from Eastern Michigan University in 2013. Her research involves assessing and developing interdisciplinary models of health-related cognitions and behaviors to improve weight-related outcomes and reduce health disparities through the examination of health determinants (i.e., biological, psychological, social, and health systems factors) and interventions. Fowler has a particular interest in examining the use of mobile technology as assessment and intervention tools, and investigating the influence of social media on health behavior. Her research has also focused on the social cognitive processes that determine health decision making and behavior and poor outcomes following weight-loss surgery.
Rick Stein, PhD
Associate Professor, Center for Human Nutrition
Behavioral Director, Weight Management Program
Rick Stein, PhD, is an associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine and Behavioral Director for the Washington University Weight Management Program. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Arizona State University and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at San Diego State University. He then held an academic appointment at the State University of New York at Buffalo before coming to St. Louis. Stein’s research and clinical work has focused on developing and conducting treatments for obesity and eating disorders. His research interests also include community-based interventions for child and adult obesity.
R. Robinson Welch, PhD, CGP
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Robinson Welch, PhD, CGP, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine. Welch received his doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and completed his predoctoral internship at the University of Missouri-Columbia counseling services. Welch has held academic appointments at Yale University, San Diego State University, and Washington University in St. Louis. He is a licensed psychologist in the state of Missouri and is a Certified Group Psychotherapist. For the last decade, Welch’s clinical and research work has focused on identifying and implementing effective treatments for eating disorders and obesity. For example, in the context of two large NIH-funded studies, Welch has treated overweight adults with binge-eating disorder with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) and has treated overweight children and their overweight parents with family-based behavioral interventions.