Photo by Tony RinaldoPhoto by Tony Rinaldo
JanetRich-Edwards
2018–2019
Helen Putnam Fellow
Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Biology and Medical Sciences
How Childhood Trauma Leads to Obesity: Identifying Mechanisms Linking Child Abuse to “Food Addiction”

Janet Rich-Edwards is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Women’s Health, Department of Medicine of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She has recently served the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study as the faculty codirector of the science program in Academic Ventures.

As a Radcliffe fellow, Rich-Edwards is investigating why survivors of child abuse are at heightened risk of such chronic diseases as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Her research team has identified a disordered pattern of eating known as food addiction that is twice as prevalent in women with a history of childhood trauma and is associated with obesity. But what are the physiologic mechanisms through which early trauma leads to food addiction? Rich-Edwards will be working with collaborators at the Department of Psychology to investigate whether the neurologic pathways between child abuse and drug addiction are also relevant to food addiction and its downstream impact on obesity and chronic disease.

Rich-Edwards, who earned an MPH from the University of North Carolina and an SCD from Harvard Chan, is also a graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator. She will also carve out time while at the Institute to work on her first novel, “The Weight of Clay,” about an American sculptress commissioned by a natural history museum to travel the globe and sculpt 100 bronzes for The Races of Mankind at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

2018–2019 Radcliffe Institute Fellows

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
Photo by Tony Rinaldo