NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Columbia University Establish Integrated Eating Disorders Center

A Key Clinical Component of the Center Opens Today: The Outlook at Westchester Is the Only Specialized Psychiatric Inpatient Eating Disorders Program in NY State

Dec 1, 2009


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in affiliation with the New York State Psychiatric Institute, announced the creation of an integrated eating disorders center. Opening today is a key clinical component of this new center — The Outlook at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division in White Plains. The only specialized inpatient eating disorders program in New York state, The Outlook will provide treatment for adolescents and adults with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, as well as binge eating and other eating-related disorders.

Also under the umbrella of the integrated center are outpatient treatment programs at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Westchester, the New York State Psychiatric Institute and on East 60th St. in Manhattan.

"Eating disorders seriously imperil the health and well-being of those affected, while also presenting a major challenge for their families. With the creation of this integrated eating disorders center, we bring together unprecedented clinical, research and educational expertise and resources so that we can better provide comprehensive and compassionate treatment that addresses each patient's specific needs in order to improve their health," says Dr. Jack Barchas, the Barklie McKee Henry Professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and psychiatrist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division.

Appointed as director of the new center is Dr. Evelyn Attia, who currently serves as director of the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A prominent researcher in the psychobiology and treatment of anorexia and other eating disorders, Dr. Attia was also named professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"One of our leading authorities on eating disorders, Dr. Attia has been a major force for improving care for patients with these challenging conditions. She has been instrumental in understanding the biological basis of anorexia nervosa and in developing effective new treatments," says Dr. Jeffrey A. Lieberman, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and psychiatrist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

"I look forward to working closely with my colleagues at NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Columbia as we develop and implement clinical best practices, new collaborative research projects and educational opportunities," says Dr. Attia.

The Outlook at NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester

NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester first established an eating disorders program more than 30 years ago. Now known as The Outlook, it has relocated into an expanded and enhanced facility. The spacious unit has 17 beds in total — six for adolescents and 11 for adult patients — and two full-time psychiatrists, including Dr. Parinda Parikh, who will serve as unit chief. The program's multidisciplinary team also comprises psychologists, social workers, nursing staff, nutritionists and therapeutic activities staff.

Designed with patients' needs in mind, the unit features areas for groups and activities, including meal preparation. And reflecting its bucolic park-like setting at NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester, The Outlook's refurbished interior space is decorated with nature photography by artist Nadine Levin, whose images of mountains, oceans, fields and streams imbue the unit with a sense of calm.

"For individuals with acute eating disorders, hospitalization is the best way to address what can often be life-threatening medical and psychiatric complications. As New York state's only specialized inpatient program for treating eating disorders, The Outlook offers patients and their families a level of care unavailable in a general psychiatric unit," says Dr. Attia. "Effectively treating eating disorders can be a challenge, and requires specialty training in treatments such as behavioral management. Alongside its treatment program, The Outlook will offer specialized clinical training, helping to fill a gap in this area."

Dr. Evelyn Attia

Dr. Evelyn Attia received a medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed a residency in psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Attia is the program director for one of three New York state–designated Comprehensive Care Centers for Eating Disorders — a joint program of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Schneider Children's Hospital in Long Island. She has received continuous funding from the NIH for her work since joining Columbia's Eating Disorders Research Unit in 1999 as well as grants from private foundations and industry. Dr. Attia is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and is currently a member of the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) Eating Disorders Workgroup. She has received an award from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), and a Scholars Grant for Faculty Development in Women's Health from Pfizer and The Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR). Additionally, she has received a Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) for her study titled "Serotonin's Role in the Psychobiology of Anorexia Nervosa."

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is marked by a disturbance in eating behavior together with psychological distress or impairment. This could include extreme food restriction, overeating or abnormal compensatory behaviors following food ingestion together with significant distress or concern about body weight or shape. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most common of these conditions, which in severe cases can be life-threatening. Women and girls are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder, with an estimated 5 to 7 percent of U.S. females affected during their lifetimes. The conditions frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood, and frequently co-exist with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety. Individuals with eating disorders can suffer from numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division, opened in 1894, is one of the world's most advanced centers for psychiatric care. The Westchester Division serves children, adolescents, adults and the elderly with comprehensive outpatient, day treatment, partial hospitalization and inpatient services. In addition to clinical treatment, the Westchester Division is also a center for interdisciplinary medical research and education through its academic affiliate, Weill Cornell Medical College. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. For more information, visit

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Weill Cornell, which is a principal academic affiliate of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, offers an innovative curriculum that integrates the teaching of basic and clinical sciences, problem-based learning, office-based preceptorships, and primary care and doctoring courses. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research in areas such as stem cells, genetics and gene therapy, geriatrics, neuroscience, structural biology, cardiovascular medicine, transplantation medicine, infectious disease, obesity, cancer, psychiatry and public health — and continue to delve ever deeper into the molecular basis of disease and social determinants of health in an effort to unlock the mysteries of the human body in health and sickness. In its commitment to global health and education, the Medical College has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth, key studies on brain growth and developmental processes, and important discoveries related to such severe problems through the life cycle such as depressive disorders, schizophrenia and personality disorders, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. For more information, visit

Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The Medical Center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is now among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and state and one of the largest in the United States. For more information, please visit

Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and the New York State Psychiatric Institute

Columbia Psychiatry is ranked among the best departments and psychiatric research facilities in the nation and has contributed greatly to the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Located at the New York State Psychiatric Institute on the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center campus in Northern Manhattan, the department enjoys a rich and productive collaborative relationship with physicians in various disciplines at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Columbia Psychiatry is home to distinguished clinicians and researchers noted for their clinical and research advances in the diagnosis and treatment of depression, suicide, schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders, eating disorders and childhood psychiatric disorders. The 2000 Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel was recognized for research that helped elucidate the cellular processes that underlie learning and memory — contributions that have implications for treating conditions such as Alzheimer's and age-related memory loss. Columbia Psychiatry's extraordinary scientific base is supported by more federal grants than any other psychiatry department in the nation. For more information, please visit

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