Research Discovers Genes Linked To Twinning And Reproductive Fitness

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This article is provided by the Baylor College of Medicine, please share your comments below…..

mombabyBearing fraternal non-identical twins, or dizygotic (DZ) twinning, has been known to run in families. Studies have suggested that DZ twinning is potentially influenced by more than one gene and linked to a maternal factor. In a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, an international collaborative team of researchers reports the finding of two genes that are associated with increased odds for women bearing fraternal twins.

“We know that dizygotic, or non-identical twins, is heritable and passed on down the maternal lineage. We had spent several years first identifying twinning genes in a really spectacular group of new world monkeys, the marmoset, who always have twins or triplets. Now we were ready to tackle the genetics of twinning in humans,” said Dr. Kjersti Aagaard associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and OB/GYN and maternal fetal medicine specialist at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, and one of the study’s lead authors. “Working with our colleagues around the globe, we not only found two genes with links to twinning, but to a number of different important signs of reproductive fitness.”

“There’s an enormous interest in twins and in why some women have twins while others don’t,” said Dr. Dorret Boomsma, a biological psychologist at Vrije Universiteit (VU), Amsterdam, and corresponding author for this work, who has compiled one of the largest twin databases in the world. “The question is very simple and our research shows for the first time that we can identify genetic variants [variations of a gene] that contribute to this likelihood.”

The follicle stimulating hormone (FSHB) gene, one of two genes found to be linked to DZ twinning, has shown significant effects on fertility affecting multiple reproductive aspects. For instance, FSHB helps control the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by the ovary.

“We found that not only did the FSHB gene variant in moms associate with an increased likelihood of having DZ twins, but was associated in a gene dose-dependent manner to the amount of circulating follicle stimulating. In addition, women from four different cohorts around the globe carrying this genetic variant had their first period, menopause, their first child and their last child at an earlier age than women carrying other FSHB genetic variants,” said Aagaard.

Women who carried this FSHB genetic variant also showed signs of less occurrence of polycystic ovarian syndrome. With this discovery, researchers were able to tie this FSHB gene to multiple reproductive fitness traits.

The second gene found by the research team, SMAD3, affected the bearing of dizygotic twins a little differently.

“We found that moms who had this SMAD3 genetic variant also had a higher occurrence of twins,” said Aagaard. “But these moms were older at the birth of their last child, so it is a little bit different than what we saw with the FSHB variant.”

The SMAD3 genetic variant associated with DZ twinning, the authors propose, might increase the chances of DZ twinning by increasing the responsiveness to FSHB through the supporting granulosa cells.

Both genetic variants affect the growth of multiple follicles, which is needed for the development of non-identical twins. Dizygotic twins start with multiple ovulation, a maternal characteristic, and identical twins start with one embryo that splits in half.

This study focused on many different moms of twin cohorts from around the world, including a validation cohort of the population of Iceland. In this group, having each allelic FSHB variant increased women’s chances of having dizygotic twins by 18 percent per allele, and the SMAD3 variant increased the occurrence of twins by 9 percent per allele. Women who had both variants showed an increased chance of 29 percent.

The work has numerous potential applications in reproductive medicine and maternal health. For instance, it may help predict the outcome of multiple births and assist in the development of new strategies to optimize fertility.

Drawing on their recent work in the marmoset, Aagaard is optimistic that these and future evolution based genetic studies focused on twinning may yield key insights for pregnancy and reproductive health.

“What has always struck us about the marmoset is that their capacity for twinning is accompanied by unique adaptive traits that optimize their ability to both carry and care for multiple young at one time,” she said. “The more we can integrate our molecular and genetic findings in both marmoset and human moms, the greater the chance that we can unravel the mysteries of what enables reproductive fitness and optimal pregnancy outcomes in both singleton and multiple gestations.”

For the names, affiliations and support of the authors of this research, visit the Supplementary Materials section of the manuscript.

New Research Study Goes Against Popular Belief On “39-week” Pregnancy Rule

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pregnantThis article is courtesy of the Baylor College of Medicine, please share your comments below. Questions or concerns about the article should be addressed directly to the Baylor College of Medicine.

Women who are managing low-risk pregnancies are advised to follow the “39-week rule” – waiting until they are 39 weeks to deliver. This rule is intended to eliminate elective inductions and cesarean deliveries at 37 and 38 weeks, when outcomes for the newborns are believed to be worse than those born at full term.

But new research by a Baylor College of Medicine epidemiologist suggests that babies delivered after elective induction at 37 to 38 weeks may not have an increased risk of adverse neonatal outcomes, compared to those infants who are expectantly managed (i.e., medical observation or “watchful waiting”) and delivered at 39 to 40 weeks. The findings appear in the current issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“Our findings caution against a general avoidance of all elective early-term inductions and call for continued research, based on better data, in what is still a relatively new arena,” said Dr. Jason Salemi, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor and lead author of the study.

The national initiative to eliminate all elective deliveries before 39 weeks began to gain momentum around 2008, Salemi said, and was supported by professional organizations and adopted by healthcare institutions.

“Until then, I had never observed a campaign so enthusiastically embraced and that resulted in such widespread implementation of practice improvement efforts,” Salemi said.

But he saw limitations in many studies used to justify the 39-week rule. Most notably, he recognized what he believed to be an inappropriate choice of comparison group for elective early-term deliveries.

“A number of studies reporting worse outcomes for elective early-term deliveries compared them with later term spontaneous deliveries, a low-risk group. However, the clinical decision that must be made is not between elective early-term delivery and later spontaneous delivery, but between elective early-term delivery and expectant management, in which the outcome remains unknown,” Salemi said.

Salemi and his colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study that used data on more than 675,000 infants from a statewide database. All live births were classified on the basis of the timing and reason for delivery. The research study compared elective inductions and cesarean deliveries at 37 to 38 weeks to expectantly managed pregnancies delivered at 39 to 40 weeks.

“We focused on serious conditions in early life. Our outcomes included neonatal respiratory morbidity, sepsis, feeding difficulties, admission to the neonatal intensive care unit and infant mortality,” Salemi said.

Salemi cautions that the research findings do not lend support for elective deliveries before 39 weeks and, in fact, provide evidence that supports the avoidance of elective early-term cesarean deliveries. The study found that infants delivered after cesarean delivery at 37 to 38 weeks had a 13 to 66 percent increase in the odds of damaging outcomes.

However, infants delivered after elective early-term induction experienced odds of adverse neonatal outcomes that were largely the same as infants who were expectantly managed and delivered at 39 to 40 weeks. Through the research findings, Salemi hopes to increase awareness on the many issues that surround the timing and reasons for delivery.

“Each pregnancy is unique,” He said. “I cannot overstate the importance of open and ongoing communication between pregnant women and their healthcare providers so that the potential risks and benefits of any pregnancy-related decision are understood fully.”

Other authors that contributed to this research study and article are Dr. Elizabeth Pathak, during her time as an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, and Dr. Hamisu Salihu, professor and vice chair for research in family and community medicine at Baylor.

This research was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (grant number R01HS019997).

Georgia State Adds Two University Research Centers

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didyouknow?Georgia State University has created two new research centers—the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development and the Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine—dedicated to health and medicine.

Researchers in the centers have already procured more than $55 million in external research funding.

“These new university-level research centers are tremendous resources for Georgia State to meet the health care challenges of the 21st century,” said James Weyhenmeyer, vice president for research and economic development at Georgia State. “These researchers will play a key role in bringing scientific innovations into the everyday practices and policies that directly affect people’s lives and the health of communities.”

The Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development will promote and produce the health, safety and well-being of children, adults and families with and without disabilities through research, service and advocacy.

“Our center’s multi-faceted work is focused on the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment, reduction in family violence and improvements in the lives of persons with disabilities and their families,” said John Lutzker, director of the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development and associate dean of faculty development at Georgia State. “We will utilize the resources provided by the university research center model to build upon our existing capacity and infrastructure to catalyze existing programmatic research.”

The center is named in honor of the late Mark Chaffin, whose practice, teaching, research and publications focused mainly on the development, adaptation and implementation of evidence-based service models in youth-serving prevention and social services systems, such as child welfare, juvenile justice and early childhood developmental disabilities systems.

The Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine will transform information gained from biomedical research into knowledge improving the state of human health and disease. The research focus of the center is to dissect molecular insights of cardiovascular remodeling in obesity and obesity-related diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases and stroke with special emphasis on the regulation of these processes.

“Our center meets healthcare needs by converting significant research findings into diagnostic tools and medicines to improve the health of individuals,” said Ming-Hui Zou, director of the Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine. “The center is designed to help millions of people suffering from heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses.

Both centers’ research agenda includes working with scientists across all disciplines and continuing to provide leadership at local, national and international levels.

For more information about the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development, visit healthy.gsu.edu.

For more information about the Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine, visit medicine.gsu.edu.

Georgia State Research Paves Way For Early Detection Of Liver Cancer

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doctorLed by Georgia State University, researchers have developed the first robust and noninvasive detection of early stage liver cancer and liver metastases, in addition to other liver diseases, such as cirrhosis and liver fibrosis.

Their findings were published Wednesday (May 13) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More than 700,000 people are diagnosed with liver cancer each year. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, accounting for more than 600,000 deaths annually, according to the American Cancer Society. The rate of liver cancer in the U.S. has sharply increased because of several factors, including chronic alcohol abuse, obesity and insulin resistance.

“Liver cancers associated with high mortality rates and poor treatment responses are often diagnosed in the late stages because there is not a reliable way to detect primary liver cancer and metastasis at a size smaller than one centimeter,” said Jenny Yang, lead author on the paper, Distinguished University Professor and associate director of the Center for Diagnostics and Therapeutics at Georgia State.

The liver is a common site for a variety of cancers, including melanoma, breast, pancreatic and colon cancers. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the leading imaging technique to detect disease without using radiation. MRI contrast or imaging agents aid MRI techniques to obtain tissue-specific images.

As reported by Yang, the applications of MRI contrast agents are not effective for early detection of cancerous tumors because they are hampered by uncontrolled blood circulation time, low relaxation rate or sensitivity, and low specificity. Most contrast agents, she said, are rapidly excreted from the liver, not allowing sufficient time to obtain quality imaging.

To more effectively detect cancerous tumors at an early stage, researchers from Georgia State, in collaboration with researchers from Emory University, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and the University of Virginia, have developed a new class of protein-based contrast agents (PRCAs) and an imaging methodology that provides robust results for the early detection of liver cancer and other liver diseases.

ProCA32, the researchers’ newly developed contrast agent, allows for imaging liver tumors that measure less than 0.25 millimeters. The agent is more than 40 times more sensitive than today’s commonly used and clinically approved agents used to detect tumors in the liver.

ProCA32 widens the MRI detection window and is found to be essential for obtaining high-resolution quality images of the liver. This application has important medical implications for imaging various liver diseases, the origin of cancer metastasis, monitoring cancer treatment and guiding therapeutic interventions, such as drug delivery.

“Our new agents can obtain both positive and negative contrast images within one application, providing double the accuracy and confidence of locating cancerous tumors,” Yang said. “These agents are also expected to be much safer with reduced metal toxicity.”

The researchers have shown proof-of-concept that ProCA32 can be used to detect cancerous liver tumors at an early stage with high sensitivity. They have also demonstrated that these new agents better aid the imaging of multiple organs, including the kidney and blood vessels, in addition to the liver and tumors.

“ProCA32 may have far-reaching implications in the diagnosis of other malignancies, which in turn would facilitate development of targeted treatment along with effective monitoring of reduction of tumor burden,” Yang said. “Our agent and methodology can also be applied to study the brain and monitor treatment outcomes in a number of disorders, including stroke and recovery after stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors and gliomas.”

The research is supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Research Finds Genes May Influence Leadership In The Workplace

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This article is courtesy of K-State News and Communications Services…..have thoughts about the article, please share in the comments section below…..

deskThe right genes may help you become an organization’s next president or CEO. But the same genes may also hinder your leadership path, according to Kansas State University psychological sciences research.

Wendong Li, assistant professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences, and collaborators have found a “mixed blessing” for workers who hold workplace leadership positions, from the formal leader of a CEO to an informal group leader. Their study focused on the dopamine transporter gene DAT1, which can influence leadership and is important for reward and motivation systems in humans.

“It’s like a mixed blessing — this gene can have both positive and negative effects on leadership,” Li said. “An implication is that it really depends on environmental factors to determine if overall it is a positive or negative.”

On the positive side, the researchers found that people who had the 10-repeat allele in the dopamine transporter were most likely to engage in adolescent mild rule-breaking behavior, which is positively associated with leadership, Li said. Such mild rule-breaking behavior may include actions such as skipping class, but it is not serious deviant behavior such as shooting.

“Mild rule-breaking is actually positively correlated with the chance for you to become a leader in adulthood,” Li said. “These kinds of behaviors can provide you with an advantage because they allow adolescents to explore boundaries and learn something new.”

On the negative side, the researchers found that people with the dopamine transporter gene scored lower on proactive personality, which can lead to positive changes at work and is important for leadership emergence.

“These people were less likely to regulate their own behaviors to make a positive change,” Li said. “It can be very difficult to make a positive change because it involves mobilizing resources to overcome difficulties and obstacles so that the change can happen. These people were not good at regulating behaviors such as being persistent.”

The takeaway from the study? To become a leader and be a good leader involves multiple factors — genes and the environment — working together, Li said. Some influential environmental factors — though not studied in this research — can include democratic parenting, a supportive family, and a challenging and cultivating workplace.

workdeskManagers cannot assume that changing one aspect of the work environment will be beneficial for all individuals, Li said, because employees bring individual characteristics to the organization. Some individual differences can’t be ignored because they are rooted in genetic makeup and enhance the chance for individuals to engage in certain types of behaviors, either positive or negative.

“In the long run, we are advocating more individualized and customized management practices, which allow people to choose the type of work environment that fits their individual characteristics,” Li said. “Customizing workplace practices is good for employee learning, development and leadership potential. Ultimately, it is good for employee performance and well-being, which in turn may enhance organizational effectiveness.”

The researchers used two sets of data for the study: The National University of Singapore’s Strabismus, Amblyopia, and Refractive Error Study, or STARS, which includes 309 people, and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which includes more than 13,000 individuals. The researchers had similar results with both samples, Li said.

The researchers recently published their research, “A mixed blessing? Dual mediating mechanisms in the relationship between dopamine transporter gene DAT1 and leadership role occupancy” in The Leadership Quarterly.

Iowa Researcher Awarded 2015 ACSM-AMSSM Clinical Research Grant

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This article is courtesy of ACSM, please share your comments below…..

didyouknow?M. Kyle Smoot, MD, is the 2015 recipient of the ACSM Foundation-AMSSM Foundation Clinical Research Grant for his research titled, “The relationship between muscle damage and acute kidney injury biomarkers in American football players during preseason workouts.”

The latest in a series of collaborative projects between the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the joint Clinical Research Grant Committee selects a single proposal to receive a $20,000 award. This is the 3rd year of the partnership for the annual joint clinical research grant awards. “The grant review committee is pleased to award funding for Dr. Smoot’s research proposal that will investigate new serum markers of acute kidney injury in athletes,” said Suzanne Hecht, M.D., who chaired the joint organization review committee. “This research has the potential to play a role in the management of the athlete with suspected rhadomyolysis along with other possible applications.”

Dr. Smoot is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, where he also serves as the Program Director for its sports medicine fellowship program. He has conducted research on adequacy of pre-participation cardiovascular screening in NCAA collegiate athletes, concussion protocol for student athletes and assessment of muscle damage in asymptomatic football players during strenuous activity. He received his medical degree from Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, OH, residency at the University of Kentucky Medical Center and completed a primary care sports medicine fellowship at UK.

The primary purpose of the ACSMF-AMSSMF Clinical Research Grant Award is to foster original scientific investigations with a strong clinical focus among physician members of ACSM and AMSSM. A secondary intent of the grant program is to foster the development of the principal investigator’s research education by requiring that a portion of the funds to be applied to meet this goal. The review committee sought research proposals that investigate research questions within the broad discipline of sports medicine. The criteria required proposals to be led by physicians who are members of both ACSM and AMSSM.

Gym, Health And Fitness Clubs In The US Industry Market Research Report

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Thank you to PRWeb for supplying this article, please share your thoughts in the comments section below…..

malepushupThe industry will benefit from the burgeoning elderly population becoming increasingly active, which will result in many baby boomers signing up for health club memberships. For this reason, industry research firm IBISWorld has updated a report on the gym, health and fitness clubs industry in its growing industry report collection.

The gym, health and fitness clubs industry has weighed in on the recent marketing campaigns and consumer trends that have aimed to fight obesity and advocate for improved consumer health. In the five years to 2014, health club memberships have grown. According to IBISWorld Industry Analyst Sarah Turk, “While health club memberships have fared well over the period, they still declined in 2009, in line with many budget-conscious individuals terminating their memberships.” Further exacerbating this trend, time-strapped consumers became more prevalent, evidenced by individuals’ time spent on leisure and sports remaining relatively stagnant, which has slightly constrained industry revenue growth.

However, from 2010 to 2014, many small, low-cost gyms with few amenities and month-by-month contracts have fared well when compared with high-cost, all-inclusive gym memberships. Furthermore, many health-conscious individuals have implemented fitness into their daily regimen, which has buoyed industry revenue. “Additionally, the number of adults aged 20 to 64, the largest gym-going demographic, has exhibited growth, which spurred demand for gym memberships over the period,” says Turk. As a result, in the five years to 2014, industry revenue is anticipated to grow, including revenue growth in 2014 due to more consumers valuing fitness to bolster their overall health and well being. Nevertheless, profit is expected to contract from, which can be attributed to many gym, health and fitness clubs offering memberships with low cancellation penalty fees, thereby cutting into profitability, particularly for gyms that had high attrition rates over the period.

Over the next five years, the industry will benefit from the burgeoning elderly population becoming increasingly active, which will result in many baby boomers signing up for health club memberships. Consequently, industry revenue is forecast to grow in the five years to 2019. Moreover, consumers will substitute larger, all-inclusive clubs for low-cost memberships, which is anticipated to propel industry revenue forward.

To read the full article, click here…..

National Eating Disorders Association Announces Ground-Breaking Research

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In-Home, ‘Tele-Treatment Programs’ Being Tested to Address Lack of Accessibility to Quality, Specialized Care

Often Used as a ‘Tool’ to Enhance E.D. Practices, the Internet May Also Hold the Cure

newsNEW YORK CITYNov. 5, 2013 — For Immediate Release — The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) recently announced the first research initiatives – with an eye on utilizing technology – to be undertaken with $400,000 in grants from its newly launched Feeding Hope Fund for clinical research and training.

“The Internet and social networking have unfortunately been used to promote the practice of eating disorders via pro-ana and pro-mia websites and in chat rooms,” commented NEDA’s CEO & president Lynn Grefe, who notes that NEDA serves in an advisory capacity to both Facebook and Tumblr in addressing such issues and launched a safe social networking site for tweens and teens last year, Proud2BMe.org. “It is our hope – and our belief – that the Internet can also be a groundbreaking tool for battling these life-threatening illnesses.”

Two grant awardees were selected by NEDA’s Research Advisory Council and approved by its board of directors at its recent conference in Washington, D.C. Each recipient will receive two-year grants of $200,000 ($100,000 annually). Research programs are:

Daniel Le Grange, PhD, The University of Chicago
Family Based-Treatment Without Borders: Utilizing Telemedicine to Deliver Family-Based Treatment. This innovative study will address the needs of families in remote, rural or underrepresented regions of the U.S. by delivering Family-Based Treatment (FBT) via telemedicine (FBT-TM). FBT – also known as the Maudsley Approach – employs a family-focused approach, rather than individual counseling, which research has shown to be more effective in medically stable adolescent anorexia nervosa patients. However, accessing FBT is challenging for many families who are not located near appropriate treatment choices, which tend to be clustered in urban areas. This study will determine whether FBT conducted via telemedicine in a patient’s home retains its success rate.

Denise Wilfley, PhD, Washington University, St. Louis
Harnessing Technology for Training Clinicians to Deliver Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Researchers will develop a novel, guided online training program to train professionals in using Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), treatment for eating disorders that has proven to be effective in studies. This study will examine the efficacy of training counselors via the Internet for psychotherapy treatment of bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and subclinical eating disorders, with the aim of increasing the number of clinicians trained to deliver IPT effectively.

“We congratulate the recipients of the first grants to be presented by NEDA’s Feeding Hope Fund for clinical research and training,” Grefe said, “and thank them for their innovation and their dedication to the vision of a world without eating disorders. Their work is making the best use of today’s resources for tomorrow’s challenges.”

Added NEDA Research Advisory Committee co-chair Walter Kaye, M.D., “It is critical that we address both the expense of and the lack of accessibility to treatment for eating disorders … and the lack of research funds available for addressing these issues. NEDA is proud to provide funding to further these projects, which were selected based on an emphasis of program innovation and projected clinical impact.”

Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health – who recently spoke as keynote speaker at NEDA’s conference as the father of a child who has battled an eating disorder – commented, “Because they have the highest mortality rates of all mental disorders, further research to better understand eating disorders is critical. Research is our best hope for effective prevention and even better treatments in the future.”

Concluded Patrick J. Kennedy, former Congressman, “I have always felt that eating disorders suffer the most persistent discrimination within the mental health community in both insurance coverage and in research funding. I commend NEDA for raising awareness to these issues and for setting the stage for progress.”

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. Eating disorders are bio-psycho-social illnesses with potentially life-threatening consequences. Despite the severity and prevalence, research funding in this field is severely lacking.

The Feeding Hope Fund was announced in February during NEDA’s 26th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The program raises restricted funds for awarding grants to qualified clinical researchers and experts. Projects funded will either develop and test new treatments or provide training on established evidence-based treatments to fellow clinicians. This project is in direct response to seriously underfunded clinical research and training in the field of eating disorders.

Although serious and potentially life-threatening, the ability to gain insight into the cause behind the disease will lead to improved prevention and treatment options and ultimately a potential cure. And you can help! All levels of giving will receive exclusive updates and invitations to events, an annual report on updates and recipients, listing on the website, and a commemorative pin.

To help support the Feeding Hope Fund, visit www.myneda.org/feedinghopefund or contact Terry Marks at feedinghopefund@nationaleatingdisorders.org or 212-575-6200, ext. #307.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in New York City, is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders. For more information, visit www.MyNEDA.org

– Submitted by Kelly Willliams of Greenleaf & Associates