By Miriam Tucker
Bethesda, Maryland — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) held a 2-day conference on high-level science that is beginning to yield clues to understanding and ultimately treating the complex, multisystem illness now known as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME / CFS).
The Accelerating Research on ME / CFS Meeting, held on the NIH’s main campus on April 4 – 5, brought together experts in basic science, clinician researchers, patients, and patient advocates to share the many research approaches being taken. These include studies in genomics, metabolomics, metabolism, immunology, microbiome, and brain imaging. Many of these studies have identified biological perturbations in patients with ME / CFS that are distinct from normal persons or comparison control patients.
The day before the meeting, on April 3, the NIH sponsored a day-long meeting, Thinking the Future: A Workshop for Young/Early Career ME / CFS Investigators, aimed at bringing new researchers into the field. About 40 persons attended. Some presented posters of their work at the main meeting.
The NIH has tripled its research funding for ME / CFS in recent years, from just $5 million in 2014 to $16 million in 2018. Part of that money has gone to three collaborative centers — Columbia University, in New York City; Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York; and the Jackson Laboratory, in Farmington, Connecticut. At the conference, speakers from each of those institutions gave updates on their work.