Ya-Ke “Grace” Wu, PhD, RN

Assistant Professor

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School of Nursing
Carrington Hall, CB #7460
Office 4015
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460

Dr. Wu is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Dr. Wu received her PhD from the UNC School of Nursing in 2018 and completed comprehensive training in eating disorders at the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and interventions development at the UNC School of Nursing’s T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship. She was also selected and completed the Summer Genetics Institute at the National Institute of Nursing Research and Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Dr. Wu earned her BSN at Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology and her MSN at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan. Prior to pursuing her PhD degree, Dr. Wu worked as a registered nurse for twelve years and a lecturer in evidence-based practice for seven years in Taiwan.

While earning her PhD, Dr. Wu worked as a teaching and research assistant, a graduate student recruiter, and a clinical compliance specialist at the UNC School of Nursing. During her PhD training, Dr. Wu was awarded a Studying Abroad Fellowship, a Summer Research Fellowship, a Dissertation Completion Fellowship, and the Virginia J. Neelon Endowed Bio-Behavioral Nursing Scholarship by the UNC and the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. She also received a Future Faculty Fellowship Program certificate from the UNC Center for Faculty Excellence. In addition, Dr. Wu received Student/Early Career Investigator Travel Fellowship from The Academy for Eating Disorders during her postdoctoral training. She has published twelve papers and one book chapter and has delivered numerous research presentations at scientific conferences around the world.

Dr. Wu’s research interests are investigating prediction and prevention for eating disorders symptoms using a comprehensive model that explores genetic, psychological, and environmental risk factors. In her PhD research, she studied hair cortisol as a biomarker of chronic stress to investigate the link between the stress of weight stigma and the biological stress response of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity among Asian Americans at UNC Biobehavioral Laboratory. She also focused on the behavioral stress response by examining the association between weight stigma and binge eating behaviors. Dr. Wu’s post-doctoral research focuses on biological predictors of eating disorders with a specialization in the roles of stress and appetite hormones in the mechanisms of eating disorders. She examined whether the changes in cortisol, norepinephrine, adrenocorticotropic hormone, leptin, and ghrelin levels during inpatient treatment of women with anorexia nervosa predicts their binge eating symptoms at 3-months post-discharge at the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders.

Some of the contributions Dr. Wu made to science include: 1) broadened the understanding of binge eating risk and eating disorder symptoms in Asian populations, 2) clarified the influences of stress, appetite, thyroid hormones, brain-specific biomarkers, and genetic factors in patients with eating disorders, 3) explored food addiction and eating disorders interventions in college students. Her goal is to help healthcare providers predict eating disorders symptoms and develop interventions that are specifically tailored to the needs of patients with eating disorders.