Home » Conference » Sex Differences in Eating and Addiction: What Does Stress Have to Do With It?

Sex Differences in Eating and Addiction: What Does Stress Have to Do With It?

The purpose of this mini-conference is to bring together perspectives from experts in the fields of stress biology, eating disorders, and addiction to help answer the question: Why do males and females differ in their expression of eating and addictive disorders and their outcomes?  Despite well documented gender differences in the prevalence of eating and addictive disorders and an increasingly detailed understanding of their related biological basis, little is known about what role one’s sex plays in the disease.  Attendees will hear leading experts weigh-in on what we know and where we need to go to answer this question from different clinical and biological perspectives.  The conference will finish with a special symposium addressing the difficult and controversial issue of where food falls in the addictive spectrum. 



The focus of this mini-conference is to attract the brightest young investigators and clinicians from these related fields to help stimulate the next generation of clinicians and researchers to consider sex differences in their clinical and academic pursuits.  The conference will be held at the New York Academy of Medicine, adjacent to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine on Monday September 10th, 2012. 


Breakfast and Lunch are provided with your registration.


Please register online ahead of time to minimize registration on September 10th.


When: Monday September 10th, 2012


Where: New York Academy of Medicine 

            1216 5th Avenue  New York, NY 10029

(on 103rd St. and 5th Avenue)

Google Maps Link: http://goo.gl/maps/7xD1z

If traveling by subway, take the 6 to 103rd Street, walk west towards 5th Ave.

Please use the entrance on 103rd Street.

The conference will be held on the 2nd Floor in the Library.


Conference Agenda


Agenda for meeting
8:30 am

Opening Remarks And Conference Introduction:

Tom Hildebrandt, PsyD
Robin Kellner (Sponsor)

Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Zoe-Story Fund

9:00 am

Sex Matters in Drug Abuse Research

Mary Kautz, PhD

National Institute on Drug Abuse
9:30 am

Males and Females Can Use Different Brain Circuits

Tracey Shors, PhD

Rutgers University

Coffee and small plates


Stress, Specific Addictions, and the Role of SNPs

Mary Jeanne Kreek, MD

Rockefeller University

Neural Mechanisms Mediating Sex Differences in Drug Abuse

Jill Becker, PhD

Michigan University

Lunch Break

Boxed Lunches

Travel Fellowship Presentations

Altered Glucocorticoid Action in Obese Pregnancy is Modulated By Diet and Gestational Weight Gain But has Similar Influences in Males and Females James O’Riley MsC University of Edinburgh

Association Between Salivary Cortisol and Dietary Pattern in Primary School Boys and Girls Nathalie Michels, MsC Leiden University

Sex Differences in Fear Conditioning: A Role of the Forbrain Mineralocorticoid Receptor Judith Pauline ter Horst, PhD Ghent University

The Role of Cortisol in the Stress Response of Men and Women Annie Duchsene, BsC McGill University

The genetic diathesis of eating disorders: Critical roles for puberty and ovarian hormones.

Kelly Klump, PhD

Michigan State University



Food as an Addictive Substance: From Neurobiology to Public Health

Empirical Support for "Food Addiction" in Preclinical and Clinical Models Nicole Avena, PhD University of Florida

The Social and Policy Significance of Food and Addiction Kelly Brownell, PhD Yale University

The Addiction Model of Eating Disorders and Obesity: Critical Analysis Terry Wilson, PhD Rutgers University

Food Addiction in Humans: More Evidence Needed? Paul Fletcher, PhD
Tim Walsh, MD
Cambridge University
Columbia University
5:00-6:00 Poster Session


Meet our Speakers!



Tracey J. Shors, PhD

Rutgers University
Professor, Department of Psychology and Center for Collaborative Neuroscience

Dr. Tracey J. Shors investigates the neuronal mechanisms through which the brain learns how memories are formed, stored and remembered in the brain. Dr. Shors studies the functions of these new neurons and how these associated neurons process learning and memory. Her laboratory determined that learning keeps new neurons alive — but only if the learning process is challenging and successful. Her research efforts also address sex differences in the brain and how males and females differ in their ability to learn and respond to stressful experiences. Dr. Shors also studies sex differences in the brain and has reported significant sex differences in learning and responses to memorable life experience. These differences in learning are mediated by different brain circuits and thereby implicate distinctive mechanisms in the male versus female brain. 


Mary Jeanne Kreek, M.D.

Rockefeller University
Professor and Head, Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases

Mary Jeanne Kreek, MD, is a graduate of Wellesley College and of the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.  She is Professor and Head of the Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at The Rockefeller University.  Dr. Kreek went to The Rockefeller Institute in 1964 to join the late Professor Vincent P. Dole; at that same time, Dr. Dole was joined by the late Dr. Marie Nyswander.  The team of three performed the initial studies of the potential use of a long-acting opioid agonist, methadone, in chronic management of heroin addiction.  She is Principal Investigator of an NIH-NIDA P-60 Research Center and author of over 400 scientific reports.  By molecular, cell biological, neurochemical, behavioral and basic clinical research and human genetics studies, she has documented the role of the endogenous opioid system in cocaine, alcohol, and heroin addiction.  Dr. Kreek received the AMERSA Betty Ford Award in 1996, the ASAM R. Brinkley Smithers Distinguished Scientist Award in 1999, the CPDD Nathan B. Eddy Memorial Award for Lifetime Excellence in Drug Abuse Research in 1999, the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons Alumni Association’s Gold Medal for Lifetime Distinguished Achievements in Academic Medicine in 2004, the CPDD Marian W. Fischman Award and Lecture in 2005, and the Wellesley Alumnae Achievement Award in 2012.  Dr. Kreek was conferred with honorary doctorates from Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2000, the University of Tel Aviv in 2007, and the University of Bologna in 2010. 


Jill Becker, PhD

University of Michigan
Chair, Department of Biopsychology

Dr. Becker’s research focuses on uncovering the relationships between behavior and neuronal activity associated with the ascending dopamine projections to the striatum and nucleus accumbens. One branch of her research on this area explores the role of ovarian hormone modulation in the striatum and the accumbens in the sexual behavioral patterns of the female rat. Yet another branch examines the mechanisms mediating the rapid effects of estradiol in the brain which underlie gender differences in motivated behavior. Some of her recent publications examine animal models of drug and sexual motivation, and the role of gonadal hormones.


Kelly L. Klump, Ph.D., FAED

Michigan State University

Dr. Klump’s research focuses on genetic and biological risk factors for eating disorders. She is particularly interested in developmental changes in these risk factors and their meaning for the development of eating disorders.  Dr. Klump has published over 100 papers and has received a number of federal grants for this work, including four currently funded NIMH projects. She has also been honored with several awards including the David Shakow Award for Early Career Contributions to Clinical Psychology from the American Psychological Association, New Investigator Awards from the World Congress on Psychiatric Genetics and the Eating Disorders Research Society, the Michigant Statue University (MSU) Teacher-Scholar Award, and the MSU Distinguished Contributions to Honors Students.  Dr. Klump was also the 2007-2008 President of the Academy for Eating Disorders, the largest, international professional organization dedicated to the treatment, research and prevention of eating disorders.


Nicole Avena, Ph.D.

University of Florida, College of Medicine
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Dr. Avena is interested in understanding why some individuals develop aberrant eating behaviors. Her work has largely focused on studying the concept of food addiction using animal models. She and her colleagues have shown rats that binge eating sucrose come to develop a behavioral phenotype and concomitant neural changes that are similar to the effects of some drugs of abuse. She has applied and extended this work to the study of other nutrients, including fats. Other research interests include understanding the neural basis of eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Dr. Avena is also interested in translational research and in using information derived from animal models to better understand eating disorders and obesity in a clinical setting.


Kelly Brownell, Ph.D.

Yale University
Professor of Psychology, Epidemiology, and Public Health
Director, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Dr. Kelly Brownell is Professor in the Department of Psychology at Yale University, where he also serves as Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and as Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. In 2006 Time magazine listed Kelly Brownell among "The World’s 100 Most Influential People" in its special Time 100 issue featuring those ".. whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world."
Dr. Brownell was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine in 2006 and served as President of several national organizations, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, and the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the James McKeen Cattell Award from the New York Academy of Sciences, the award for Outstanding Contribution to Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rutgers University. He has served in a number of leadership roles at Yale including Master of Silliman College and Chair of the Department of Psychology from 2003 to 2006.  He has published 14 books and more than 300 scientific articles and chapters. One book received the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Book from the American Library Association, and his paper on "Understanding and Preventing Relapse" published in the American Psychologist was listed as one of the most frequently cited papers in psychology.  Dr. Brownell has advised members of congress, governors, world health and nutrition organizations, and media leaders on issues of nutrition, obesity, and public policy. He was cited as a "moral entrepreneur" with special influence on public discourse in a history of the obesity field and was cited by Time magazine as a leading "warrior" in the area of nutrition and public policy.


G. Terence Wilson, Ph.D.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Oscar K. Buros Professor of Psychology

Dr. Wilson is a member of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional School of Psychology and Department of Psychology at Rutgers University where he was appointed the Oscar K. Buros Professor of Psychology in 1985. Dr. Wilson was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (1976-77 and 1990-91). Dr. Wilson has co-authored or edited a number of books, including Binge eating: Nature, assessment, and treatment (with Chris Fairburn, 1993).  He has published numerous scientific articles, and is the editor of Behaviour Research and Therapy, the leading international journal on cognitive  behavior therapy.   A former president of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy (1980-81), he has received several honors and awards including the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Clinical Psychology Award from Division 12 of the American Psychological Association (1994), the Leadership Award for Research from the Academy of Eating Disorders (2008), and the Aaron T. Beck Award from the Academy of Cognitive Therapy (2012).  He is a member of the American Psychiatric Association’s Work Group on eating disorders in DSM-5.


Paul Fletcher Ph.D.

Cambridge University
Bernard Wolf Professor of Health Neuroscience
Welcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow

Dr. Fletcher is interested in how the brain learns about associations in the environment. Many of our behaviors are governed by how we learn about and respond to environmental stimuli, particularly with regard to the capacity of those stimuli for predicting pleasant or aversive outcomes. These behaviors can become so automatic and stimulus-driven that they persist even when the outcomes are no longer consciously desirable or when we would prefer not to attain them. Understanding how the behaviors emerge requires an understanding of how we learn to associate stimuli with outcomes as well as how underlying motivational states might modify this. From this understanding, perhaps we might be able to develop ideas about the aberrant processes that lead to changes in such behaviors as would be the case in, for example, certain mental illnesses, addictions and health-harming behavior more generally. He uses functional neuroimaging, pharmacological manipulations and behavioral studies to try to develop this understanding, most recently in the understanding of eating and obesity.


B. Timothy Walsh, M.D.

Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute
W&J Ruane Professor of Pediatric Psychopharmacology (in Psychiatry)
Director, Clinical Therapeutics

B. Timothy Walsh, M.D., a graduate of Princeton University and of Harvard Medical School, joined the staff of Columbia University Medical Center in 1979 and established the Eating Disorders Research Unit at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Walsh is currently the Ruane Professor of Pediatric Psychopharmacology in the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, and Director of the Division of Clinical Therapeutics at New York State Psychiatric Institute. 
Dr. Walsh’s research group has examined biological and psychological abnormalities which contribute to the development and perpetuation of disturbances in eating behavior, and investigated both psychological and pharmacological treatments for Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. Dr. Walsh is a member of the DSM-V Task Force and chairs the Eating Disorders Workgroup for DSM-V. He is a past president of the Academy for Eating Disorders, and currently President of the Eating Disorders Research Society and an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) How do I register for the Sex Differences in Eating and Addiction Satellite Conference?

To register for the Sex Differences in Eating and Addiction conference, you use the same registration form as the main ISPNE conference.  You may select to register for the Sex Differences in Eating and Addiction conference along with the ISPNE conference, or you may select the option for "Satellite Conference Only" under the conference registration types in order to register for the Sex Differences in Eating and Addiction conference only.

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