Researchers are hoping to recruit 3500 people with a history of eating disorders to take part in a new study.
The investigation into the genetics of people who suffer from the illness is being launched in New Zealand but is set to include DNA samples from 100,000 people globally.
Seven years ago Christchurch woman Megan Nelis had anorexia nervosa and was so sick she spent time in hospital.
Her mother Trudy described it as a journey from hell and she was worried she had caused it.
"The first thought you have is, ‘Oh my god, what have I done to cause this?’ And me being an overweight lady all my life, I thought it was something I had done.”
But Megan was able to recover. She said it had "been a long, long recovery full of great highs and lows".
A recent study into anorexia nervosa has proven it probably wasn't caused by her environment, rather a gene passed down to Megan making her more susceptible to the disease.
Professor Cynthia Bulik is now taking the research a step further.
"What we're doing is we are actually collecting survey information online as well as a saliva sample in New Zealand from people who've had an eating disorder as well as people who've never had an eating disorder.
"We're comparing the genomes of those two groups of people to see where the differences lie."
She said she is hoping to understand why some people succumb to an eating disorder more easily than others
"At the end of all this what we're hoping is to have identified possibly hundreds of genes but those genes are sorted into pathways and they sort of open the window for biological pathways that might be contributing to risk for eating disorders."
Eating disorders represent the highest mortality rate of any other psychological disorder so this genetic research could help save lives.
Megan said she was excited to help.
"The ability to get involved in a study like this and use my past experiences to benefit future generations and potential sufferers of eating disorders is awesome."