OHSU

Nationally Acclaimed Expert On Eating Disorders at OHSU Honored

03/29/05   Portland, Ore.

OHSU professor of psychiatry, vice chairwoman of psychotherapy honored by American Psychiatric Association and Association for Women Psychiatrists

Kathryn Zerbe, M.D., has spent more than 25 years helping hundreds of women with eating disorders recognize the destructiveness of their behavior, identify the underlying cause and achieve a happier, healthier existence. Her commitment to women's mental health and her groundbreaking clinical research have added a vital perspective on the importance of in-depth psychotherapy to uncover and work through the underlying origins of the problem, and have earned her the prestigious 2005 Alexandra Symonds Award.

Co-presented by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Committee on Women and the Association for Women Psychiatrists, the Symonds award recognizes high-level contributions and significant leadership in women's health and advancement. Zerbe is the sixth recipient of the award, which will be presented at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga., this May. In addition to this special recognition, the APA will create an annual lectureship in her name.

"I am especially pleased that Dr. Zerbe is being recognized with the Symond's award for her outstanding contributions to our understanding and treatment of anorexia and bulimia. This award affirms what we already know about Dr. Zerbe -- she is a leader in American psychiatry. We are very fortunate to have her as a professor at OHSU," said George Keepers, M.D., professor and chairman of psychiatry, OHSU School of Medicine; and director of the OHSU Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Clinic.

For the past decade, Zerbe, a professor of psychiatry, and obstetrics and gynecology in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, has narrowed her focus on eating disorders to what has been until recently a largely overlooked problem -- anorexia and bulimia among women in midlife and later, which she defines as the period of life between ages 35 and 65.

Through years of clinical study, Zerbe determined that it is common for women to first experience an eating disorder in midlife. The underlying causes, she explains, may vary, but a common thread seems to be the inability to recognize and cope with losses that occur at this stage of life, for example when a child goes to college, a spouse or close relative dies, one's body changes through the natural course of aging, separation or divorce.

Her insight into the psychological underpinnings of disordered eating among women in this age group has raised clinician's awareness and understanding, and expanded the demographic for disordered eating from teens and women in their 20's to include older women.

"Dr. Zerbe directs the mental wellness programs for the Center for Women's Health and has changed our view of mind-life, which is critical for the multiple clinicians who care for women, whether as cancer specialists, internists or physical therapists," said Joanna Cain, M.D., professor and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine; and director, OHSU Center for Women's Health.

In the course of her career, Zerbe, who is also director of psychiatric outpatient services, and vice chairwoman for psychotherapy at OHSU, and director or behavioral medicine in the Center for Women's Health, has published several highly regarded books, including The Body Betrayed: Women, Eating Disorders, and Treatment and the forthcoming Integrated Treatment of Eating Disorders: Beyond the Body Betrayed (W. W. Norton). She has authored dozens of peer-reviewed papers and book chapters that address eating disorders, women's health and professional well-being, and the psychology of 19th and 20th century artists, and is frequently invited to speak before professional groups and organizations.

She is a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a fellow of the Academy of Eating Disorders, and a member of the American College of Psychiatrists and the American College of Psychoanalysts. The Castle-Connolly Guide repeatedly has selected her as one of "America's Top Doctors" in the field of psychiatry.

She is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Psychoanalytic Board of Professional Standards, and serves as a training and supervising psychoanalyst at the San Francisco and Oregon psychoanalytic institutes.

Zerbe's professional memberships are many and include: Academy of Eating Disorders, American College of Psychiatrists, American Medical Association, American Medical Women's Association, American Psychiatric Association (fellow), Oregon Psychiatric Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, Oregon Psychoanalytic Association, American Society of Psychopathology of Expression, Association of Women Psychiatrists, International Psycho-Analytic Association, Sigma X and The Scientific Research Society.

Zerbe earned her undergraduate degree at Duke University and her medical degree at Temple University School of Medicine. She completed her residency in psychiatry at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry and her psychoanalytic training at the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis.

Prior to joining OHSU in 2001, Zerbe was the Jack Aron Professor of Psychiatric Education and Women's Mental Health at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry, and director of the Eating Disorders Program at The Menninger Clinic, Topeka, Kan.

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