Center for Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Eating Behavior

Center for Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Eating Behavior CoBRE

Researching Eating Behavior
The Center for Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Eating Behavior (CBM-EB) allows Sanford Research, along with its partners, North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota, to develop a unique and comprehensive clinical research center focused on identifying the factors and mechanisms that promote the development of serious eating disorders and related conditions.

The fundamental objective of this center is to develop the research and clinical infrastructure to support cutting-edge research on the processes that lead to serious eating behaviors. In addition, the center develops a comprehensive training and education plan for early-career scientists to empower them to develop research expertise in factors related to disordered eating. The center also conducts critical scientific studies on the mechanisms of eating behaviors, which hopefully will advance the field and lead to more effective treatments and better care for individuals with eating disorders and their families.

How We Are Funded
The NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) are awarded to establish and develop innovative, state-of-the-art biomedical and behavioral research centers. The Sanford Center for Biobehavioral Research received a CoBRE award to support the establishment of the CBM-EB.

What We Research
We research the mechanisms that perpetuate problematic eating behaviors. These behaviors are typically seen in psychiatric syndromes such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. Additionally, our researchers are interested in mechanisms that increase the risk or perpetuation of obesity.

To learn more about the research center, see published research since the CBM-EB CoBRE inception.

Read All Publications

How We Support the Scientific Community
The CBM-EB supports the scientific community in our health system and local universities. We offer a Clinical Research Training Program, provide funds for Pilot Projects in the area of maladaptive eating behaviors and support a variety of research Cores emphasizing biostatistics, biobehavioral assessment laboratories and human subject research.

To consult with one of the research Cores or to learn more about our programs, contact Research Project Manager Kathryn Bentley, RN, at or call (701) 365-4916.

The Cores are:

Research Assessment Services Core (RASC)

The RASC provides a wide range of scientific measurement methodologies for the study of eating behavior, eating disorders and related mechanistic constructs, which can be utilized by Project Directors and other collaborating scientists and trainees in their proposed projects.

Our services:

Eating Behavior and Assessment Lab

  • Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)
  • Feeding laboratory
  • Dietary intake

    Neuroimaging and Neurobiological Assessment

    • Neuroimaging
    • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
    • Physiological assessment
    • Bioassay services

    Psychopathology Assessment

    • Self-report instruments
    • Semi-structured clinical interviews

    Cognitive Assessment

    • Laboratory cognitive assessment
    • Momentary cognitive assessment
    • Visual perception tasks


    • Microbiome
    • Genetics


    Biomedical Statistics Core (BSC)

    The purpose of the BSC is to create a methodological and statistical infrastructure supporting clinical and translational research and education focused on the mechanisms related to the onset and maintenance of eating disorders and eating behaviors.

    This Core promotes efficient access to methodological and biostatistical support by providing consultation, methodological and statistical support services, educational activities and methodological and statistical mentoring and training opportunities.

    The BSC works with the CoBRE Project Directors during the pre-grant, grant and post-grant periods, assisting in study design, sample size calculation, power analysis, data collection methods, data storage and management, ongoing study monitoring, statistical analysis, interpretations of results and assistance in the preparation of presentations and publications.

    The BSC works with the Administrative Core and Human Subjects Core to provide relevant training opportunities in the areas of the ethical conduct of research, research design, mechanistic data analytic approaches, grant writing and professional development. In addition to these training opportunities, the BSC provides more intensive training in the form of ongoing mentoring or regular hands-on training for Project Directors who are interested in expanding their analytic capabilities.

    Human Subjects Core (HSC)

    The HSC is a resource for CoBRE Project Directors and other researchers conducting research with human subjects. The goals of the HSC are:

    • To ensure researchers are adequately supported in executing research projects in compliance with regulatory requirements
    • To coordinate operational components of a research project
    • To assist in recruiting participants in a culturally sensitive and representative manner

    Areas that the HSC provides support include:

    • Facilitating institutional review board submissions
    • Coordinating the development of data safety monitoring plans
    • Assisting with recruitment and retention plans that consider variables such as gender, race and ethnicity, developmental stage, disadvantaged status and other important sampling variables
    • Assisting with developing study operational design and execution plans

    Additionally, the HSC provides education for the CoBRE Project Directors, researchers and study teams about the NIH’s regulatory aspects and best practices for conducting research with human subjects.

    The HSC also assists Project Directors in terms of identifying possible collaborations with IDeA state research sites (e.g., CoBREs, CTRs, etc.) that are relevant to eating disorders and eating behavior, as well as facilitating interactions with the eating disorder research centers broadly.

    Our Programs

    Clinical Research Training Program

    The CBM-EB hosts a Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP) to utilize ongoing instruction, mentoring and scientific consultation to assist our Project Directors in becoming independent investigators.

    This program includes a monthly seminar series and a quarterly colloquium series. These talks invite distinguished scientists in the field of eating disorder research to present a lecture and meet with our center’s scientists and discuss shared research interests and potential collaborations. Finally, the CRTP sponsors an annual half-day research grant writing workshop. All training activities are focused on clinical research associated with eating disorders and eating behavior and many are open to interested colleagues across the country.

    For more information on the CRTP, contact:
    Kathryn Bentley, BSN, RN
    (701) 365-4916

    Pilot Projects Program

    Each year, the CBM-EB invites proposals for pilot projects to support promising research that fits the scientific theme of the center. We anticipate awarding 1-3 new Pilot Projects per year. The goal of this program is to engage early career investigators in the research of eating disorders and eating behavior.

    Research areas eligible for funding within this CoBRE include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

    • Risk factors or predictors of eating disorder behavior
    • Illness-related mechanisms for the onset and maintenance of eating disorders
    • Intervention-related mechanisms regarding treatment or prevention of eating disorders
    • Factors that moderate the influence of risk factors or mechanisms of eating disorder behavior
    • The prevalence of eating disordered behaviors in different populations
    • The association between eating behaviors and other health-related behaviors

    For more information about the Pilot Projects program, contact:
    Kathryn Bentley, BSN, RN
    Research Project Manager for Pilot Projects
    (701) 365-4916


    Upcoming Events

    Register Here

    Seminar Series Events

    Bariatric Surgery 101

    Scott Engel, PhD
    Kristine Steffen, PharmD, PhD
    Gail Kerver, PhD
    July 14, 2022


    Theories of Obesity

    Leslie Heinberg, Ph.D.

    August 11, 2022


    Theories of Eating Disorders

    Stephen Wonderlich, PhD

    Gail Kerver, PhD

    September 8, 2022


    Open Science Jeff Johnson, PhD

    Ross Crosby, PhD
    October 13, 2022


    Networking Ross Crosby, PhD
    Kathryn Gordon, PhD
    November 10, 2022


    Professional Organizations
    Stephen Wonderlich, PhD
    December 8, 2022


    Colloquium Series

    Guido Frank, MD
    Professor in Residence, Psychiatry
    University of California San Diego
    November 3, 2022




    Past Events

    For more information about past events or to access the recordings, contact:
    Kara Woodbury Fladland, MEd, LPCC

    Past Seminar Series Events

    Eating Disorders 101

    Stephen Wonderlich, PhD
    Lauren Schaefer, PhD
    May 12, 2022

    Latent Structure Analysis in Eating Disorder Research
    Ross Crosby, PhD
    April 14, 2022

    Moderators and Mediators in the Research of Eating Disorders

    Ross Crosby, PhD

    March 10, 2022

    Longitudinal Mixed-Effects Regression

    Models in ED Research
    Ross Crosby, PhD
    Jan. 13, 2022

    The Regulatory Side of Human Subjects Research
    Kathy Lancaster, Director of Research Operations at the Center for Biobehavioral Research
    Kristine Steffen, PharmD, PhD
    Dec. 9, 2021

    Recruitment of Research Participants
    Emily Sargent, PhD, LP
    Kathryn Bentley, BSN, RN
    Nov. 11, 2021

    Transforming a Team of Neighbors into a Team of Colleagues: Integrating a Research Team
    Stephen Wonderlich, PhD
    Oct. 14, 2021

    Past Colloquium Series Events
    Developments, Challenges and Recent Advancements in the Treatment of Binge-Eating Disorder
    Carlos Grilo, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale University
    Jan. 18, 2022

    Why People Die by Suicide
    Thomas Joiner, PhD
    May 10, 2022
    Noon CST – virtual

    Meet Our Team


    Stephen Wonderlich, PhD
    Principal Investigator

    Ross Crosby, PhD
    Biomedical Statistics Core Co-Director

    Daniel Friesner, PhD
    Biomedical Statistics Core Co-Director

    Scott Engel, PhD
    Research Assessment Services Core Co-Director

    Kristine Steffen, PhD
    Research Assessment Services Core Co-Director

    Kathryn Lancaster
    Human Subjects Core Director

    External Advisory Committee

    John Sladek, Jr., M.S., Ph.D., FAAA

    Professor Emeritus -Neurology, Pediatrics & Neuroscience

    University of Colorado School of Medicine


    Founding Vice Chancellor for Research (ret.)

    University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center


    Kelly Allison, Ph.D.

    Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders


    Dale Bond, Ph.D.

    Director of Research Integration, Hartford Hospital


    Kyle De Young, Ph.D.

    Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Wyoming


    CoBRE Projects

    Neural Mechanisms of Biased Attention Towards Disorder-salient Stimuli in Bulimia Nervosa
    This study will examine the temporal dynamics of attention bias in women with bulimia nervosa (BN) compared to controls, using EEG; characterize the integrity of functional cortical interactions in BN using resting state (rs) fMRI; and use correlation-based statistical approaches to assess the relationship between functional connectivity and attention bias in BN.

    Project Director: Jeffrey Johnson, PhD

    A Longitudinal Examination of Reward, Eating Expectancies and Inhibitory Control in the Progression of Loss of Control Eating
    This study proposes to examine whether a history of reinforcement from eating prospectively predicts increases in eating expectancies, loss of control eating and binge eating.

    Project Director: Lauren Schaefer, PhD

    A Prospective Examination of Sleep, Eating Behavior and Weight Gain Among Overweight Adults
    This study proposes to examine sleep duration as a prospective predictor of binge eating behavior and the extent to which binge eating mediates the relationship between sleep duration, weight gain and body composition.

    Project Director: Leah Irish, PhD

    Momentary Biobehavioral Predictors of Loss of Control Eating and Weight Outcomes
    This study proposes to address biobehavioral predictors of loss of control eating among those receiving bariatric surgery to improve maintenance of weight loss outcomes following surgery.

    Project Director: Gail Williams-Kerver, PhD

    A Longitudinal, Momentary Examination of Interpersonal Stress, Inhibitory Control, Binge Eating and Non-suicidal Self-injury
    The proposed project plans to address the overlap between disordered eating behaviors and non-suicidal self-injury by evaluating the momentary effects of interpersonal stress and inhibitory control.

    Project Director: Kathryn Gordon, PhD