Denise Wilfley

Denise Wilfley

Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences​
Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry (School of Medicine)
Scott Rudolph University Professor
PhD, University of Missouri
Postdoctoral Training, Stanford University
MA, University of Missouri
BS, University of Central Missouri

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University School of Medicine
    Department of Psychiatry, CB 8134
    660 South Euclid Avenue
    St. Louis, MO 63110

Dr. Wilfley's program of research centers on the causes, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders and obesity among children, adolescents, and adults.

Current programs of research include: (1) the classification, characterization, assessment, and risk factors of eating and weight-related disorders; (2) the development of effective treatments for individuals suffering from eating disorders and obesity; and (3) the development of innovative and cost-effective methods for early intervention and prevention of eating disorders and obesity.  Dr. Wilfley’s pioneering work at the intersection of eating disorders and obesity has been integral to the formal recognition of binge eating disorder and to establishing the efficacy of interventions for recurrent binge eating syndromes. She also has developed evidence-based treatments for children and families that reduce obesity, improve nutrition and physical activity, and enhance psychosocial outcomes. She collaborates with multi-sector stakeholders to accelerate the adoption of evidence-based treatments into community settings, and she is a leader in the use of technology for addressing gaps in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. Finally, Dr. Wilfley has an extensive track record in not only directing clinical research programs but also in training the future generation of clinical researchers.

Selected Publications

  • Kazdin AE, Fitzsimmons-Craft EE, Wilfley DE. Addressing critical gaps in the treatment of eating disorders. Int J Eat Disord. 2017 Mar;50(3):170-189. doi: 10.1002/eat.22670. Epub 2017 Jan 19. PMID: 28102908; PMCID: PMC6169314.

  • Wilfley DE, Saelens BE, Stein RI, Best JR, Kolko RP, Schechtman KB, Wallendorf M, Welch RR, Perri MG, Epstein LH. Dose, Content, and Mediators of Family-Based Treatment for Childhood Obesity: A Multisite Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. 2017 Dec 1;171(12):1151-1159. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.2960. PMID: 29084318; PMCID: PMC6169780.

  • Wilfley DE, Agras WS, Fitzsimmons-Craft EE, Bohon C, Eichen DM, Welch RR, Jo B, Raghavan R, Proctor EK, Wilson GT. Training Models For Implementing Evidence-Based Psychological Treatment: A Cluster-Randomized Trial in College Counseling Centers. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Nov 6;77(2):139–47. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.3483. Epub ahead of print. Erratum in: JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Nov 27;: PMID: 31693069; PMCID: PMC6865264.

  • Wilfley DE, Stein RI, Saelens BE, Mockus DS, Matt GE, Hayden-Wade HA, Welch RR, Schechtman KB, Thompson PA, Epstein LH. Efficacy of maintenance treatment approaches for childhood overweight: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2007 Oct 10;298(14):1661-73. doi: 10.1001/jama.298.14.1661. PMID: 17925518.

  • Taylor CB, Kass AE, Trockel M, Cunning D, Weisman H, Bailey J, Sinton M, Aspen V, Schecthman K, Jacobi C, Wilfley DE. (2016). Reducing eating disorder onset in a very high risk sample with significant comorbid depression: A randomized controlled trial. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2016 May;84(5):402-14. PMCID: PMC4836995.

  • Wilfley DE, Hayes JF, Balantekin KN, Van Buren DJ, Epstein LH. Behavioral interventions for obesity in children and adults: Evidence base, novel approaches, and translation into practice. Am Psychol. 2018 Nov;73(8):981-993. doi: 10.1037/amp0000293. PMID: 30394777; PMCID: PMC6220709.

  • Epstein LH, Schechtman KB, Kilanowski C, Ramel M, Moursi NA, Quattrin T, Cook SR, Eneli IU, Pratt C, Geller N, Campo R, Lew D, Wilfley DE. Implementing family-based behavioral treatment in the pediatric primary care setting: Design of the PLAN study. Contemp Clin Trials. 2021:106497. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2021.106497. PubMed PMID: 34389519.


  • Expertscape World Expert in Feeding and Eating Disorders; Binge Eating Disorder (2021)

  • Oded Bar-Or Award for Excellence in Pediatric Obesity Research (2018)

  • Fellow, The Association for Psychological Science (2018)

  • Missouri Eating Disorders Association Founder’s Award (2016)

  • Fellow, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research (2013-present)

  • Pfizer Visiting Professorship Award, Baylor University, Houston, Texas (2010)

  • Aubuchon Obesity and Behavioral Health Fund Recipient (2009)

  • Scholar, Institute for Public Health, Washington University (2008-present)

  • K24 Midcareer NIH Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (2004-2015)

  • Fellow, The Obesity Society

  • Fellow, Academy for Eating Disorders

  • FIRST Independent Research Award (1995-1999)