Dr. Sethi is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and founding Director of the first academic Metabolic Psychiatry Clinical program in 2015. She is double board-certified in Psychiatry and Obesity Medicine and has additional expertise in adult eating disorders. She completed her residency in Psychiatry at Stanford University and specialized training in obesity at Duke Medical Center. Dr. Sethi received her MD jointly from Duke University School of Medicine and the National University of Singapore. She received a Masters degree in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University. Metabolic Psychiatry is a term she coined to describe an emerging clinical discipline focused on the integrative study and treatment of metabolic abnormalities and the relationship to mental illness. Dr. Sethi's approach to psychiatric treatment incorporates detection and treatment of metabolic abnormalities, principles of obesity medicine, nutrition and metabolism. She was awarded funding by the Obesity Treatment Foundation and Baszucki Brain Foundation as principal investigator to study the effectiveness of a low - carbohydrate ketogenic dietary intervention in an outpatient cohort of patients with obesity or metabolic dysfunction overlapping with bipolar illness or schizophrenia. She is also a co-investigator on a pilot randomized clinical trial testing an FDA-approved obesity medication for binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa at Stanford University funded by SPARK. She is a recipient of the Kuen Lau Bipolar Research Award and the Symonds Fellow Award from the Association of Women Psychiatrists for innovation in psychiatry and contributions to women’s health. She is a member of the Obesity Medicine Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and served on the council of the Northern California Psychiatric Association.

Clinical Focus

  • Psychiatry
  • Obesity Medicine
  • Adult Eating Disorders
  • Metabolic Syndrome

Academic Appointments

  • Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Administrative Appointments

  • Founding Director, Metabolic Psychiatry Clinic, Stanford University School of Medicine (2019 - Present)

Honors & Awards

  • Kuen Lau Bipolar Research Award, Stanford Department of Psychiatry (2021)
  • Metabolic Psychiatry Research Fund, Baszucki Brain Foundation (2021)
  • Obesity Treatment Foundation Grant Award, Obesity Medicine Association (2018)
  • Symonds Fellow Award, Association of Women Psychiatrists (2016)
  • ASCP Clinical Trial Scholarship, American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology (2016)
  • Recipient, The Coaching Fellowship (2015)
  • Scholar, Stanford Society of Physician Scholars (2015)
  • Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Seed Grant, Stanford Office of Community Health (2010-2012)

Professional Education

  • Board Certification: American Board of Obesity Medicine, Obesity Medicine (2020)
  • Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Psychiatry (2018)
  • Residency, Stanford University Medical Center, Psychiatry (2017)
  • Internship, Stanford University Medical Center, Psychiatry (2014)
  • MD, National University of Singapore, Medicine (2013)
  • MD, Duke University School of Medicine, Medicine (2013)
  • MS, Johns Hopkins University, Biotechnology (2007)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Improving metabolic and mental health through dietary interventions, pharmacological optimization, and other lifestyle means in those with severe mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia is a major focus of her research. Clinical and academic interests are also in the management of psychiatric disorders with co-morbid obesity, poor metabolic health and/or eating disorders, particularly binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa.

Clinical Trials

  • FDA Approved Medication to Reduce Binge Eating and/or Purging Not Recruiting

    This study will demonstrate the efficacy of Qsymia versus placebo in treating bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

    Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial. For more information, please contact Debra L Safer, MD, 650-723-7928.

    View full details

  • Impact of a Ketogenic Diet on Metabolic and Psychiatric Health in Patients With Bipolar or Schizophrenia Illness Not Recruiting

    To initiate a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) or ketogenic dietary (KD) intervention among a cohort of outpatients with either schizophrenia or bipolar illness who also have metabolic abnormalities, overweight/obesity, and/or are currently taking psychotropic medications experiencing metabolic side effects.

    Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial.

    View full details

All Publications

  • Ketogenic diet as a metabolic treatment for mental Illness. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity. Norwitz , N., Sethi Dalai , S., Palmer , C. 2020 ; 27 (5)
  • Low Carbohydrate Ketogenic Therapy as a Metabolic Treatment for Binge Eating and Ultra-processed Food Addiction. Current Opinion Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity Sethi Dalai , S., Anika, S., Ashley , G. 2020; 27 (5)
  • Ketogenic diet as a metabolic therapy for bipolar disorder: Clinical developments Yu, B., Oz, R., Sethi Dalai , S., et al Research Square Preprint . 2021
  • If Americans were healthier, we could have been better prepared for this pandemic. Sethi Dalai , S. The Hill Op-Ed. 2020
  • A randomized, placebo‐controlled crossover trial of phentermine‐topiramate ER in patients with binge‐eating disorder and bulimia nervosa International Journal of Eating Disorders Safer, D. L., Adler, S., Sethi Dalai , S., Bentley , J., Toyama, H., Parajito , S., Najarian , T., et al 2019

    View details for DOI 10.1002/eat.23192

  • Study protocol and rationale for a randomized double-blinded crossover trial of phentermine-topiramate ER versus placebo to treat binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa. Contemporary clinical trials Dalai, S. S., Adler, S. n., Najarian, T. n., Safer, D. L. 2018; 64: 173–78


    Bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED) are associated with severe psychological and medical consequences. Current therapies are limited, leaving up to 50% of patients symptomatic despite treatment, underscoring the need for additional treatment options. Qsymia, an FDA-approved medication for obesity, combines phentermine and topiramate ER. Topiramate has demonstrated efficacy for both BED and BN, but limited tolerability. Phentermine is FDA-approved for weight loss. A rationale for combined phentermine/topiramate for BED and BN is improved tolerability and efficacy. While a prior case series exploring Qsymia for BED showed promise, randomized studies are needed to evaluate Qsymia's safety and efficacy when re-purposed in eating disorders. We present a study protocol for a Phase I/IIa single-center, prospective, double-blinded, randomized, crossover trial examining safety and preliminary efficacy of Qsymia for BED and BN.Adults with BED (n=15) or BN (n=15) are randomized 1:1 to receive 12weeks Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate ER, 3.75mg/23mg-15mg/92mg) or placebo, followed by 2-weeks washout and 12-weeks crossover, where those on Qsymia receive placebo and vice versa. Subsequently participants receive 8weeks follow-up off study medications. The primary outcome is the number of binge days/week measured by EDE. Secondary outcomes include average number of binge episodes, percentage abstinence from binge eating, and changes in weight/vitals, eating psychopathology, and mood.To our knowledge this is the first randomized, double-blind protocol investigating the safety and efficacy of phentermine/topiramate in BED and BN. We highlight the background and rationale for this study, including the advantages of a crossover identifier NCT02553824 registered on 9/17/2015.

    View details for PubMedID 29038069

  • Could Pokémon Go Have Some Mental Health Benefits? Sethi Dalai, S. American Psychiatric Association . Washington DC. 2016