Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Research Associate







Commonwealth BuildingHammersmith Campus





I work in Psychiatry as part of the CAMH team led by Dr Dasha Nicholls. I am interested in the benefits of social support to mental health and the neural subtrates underpinning this. I am currently researching social behaviour in adolescents at its relationship to eating disorders. Recently, I led a study demonstrating that women with bulimia nervosa have a negative interpretation bias towards ambiguous social stimuli and a greater sensitivity to perceived social rejection than women without bulimia nervosa. In addition, I am reviewing the role of negative social interactions in eating disorders.

I am also researching the effects of oxytocin on social behaviour.  I have already demonstrated the anxiolytic effects of oxytocin on hedonic food intake in both sexes, and the dampening attentional influence of oxytocin on vigilance to food stimuli.  I have reviewed the role of oxytocin gene polymorphisms and eating disorders and am leading a project to investigate the effects of intranasal oxytocin on social behaviour in young people. I am currently running an experiment to evaluate oxytocin's impact on social difficulties among adolescents with eating disorders.

As part of Dr Martina di Simplicio's Imagine study, I was involved in assessing the reward mechanisms underlying binging and purging in young people and we demonstrated attentional biases to food and shape stimuli using the dot-probe paradigm. 

I am also researching the effects of the lockdown isolation on eating behaviours of children and adolescents in the UK and Spain. In addition, I am superiving a systematic review of eating behaviour in young people globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am also part of the MeCare research project led by Dr Dasha Nicholls set up to assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on NHS workers. 




Brakspear L, Boules D, Nicholls D, et al., 2022, The impact of COVID-19-related living restrictions on eating behaviours in children and adolescents: a systematic review, Nutrients, Vol:14, ISSN:2072-6643, Pages:1-20

Burmester V, Butler GK, Terry P, 2022, Intranasal oxytocin reduces attentional bias to food stimuli, Appetite, Vol:168, ISSN:0195-6663, Pages:1-10

Jesuthasan J, Powell R, Burmester V, et al., 2021, “We weren't checked in on, nobody spoke to us”: An exploratory qualitative analysis of two focus groups on the concerns of ethnic minority NHS staff during COVID-19, Bmj Open, Vol:12, ISSN:2044-6055, Pages:1-8

Burmester V, Nicholls D, Buckle A, et al., 2021, Review of eating disorders and oxytocin receptor polymorphisms., Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol:9, ISSN:2050-2974, Pages:1-9

Burmester V, Graham E, Nicholls D, 2021, Physiological, emotional and neural responses to visual stimuli in eating disorders: a review, Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol:9, ISSN:2050-2974

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