On Dec. 21, 2011, the Medical Research Council (UK) announced awards totaling $2.5 million (USD) for five new projects to investigate the mechanisms and underlying biological processes involved in CFS/ME.

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) announced on Dec. 12, 2011 that Dr. Nancy Klimas would join its faculty to launch the Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine within its College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Klimas’ move from the University of Miami comes after 27 years of service, but she saw an opportunity to combine her clinical and research interests under one roof. “It will be a place to coordinate cutting edge thinking and research, train new practitioners, and offer the highest quality clinical care for a hugely underserved population. I am thrilled to partner with NSU in this giant step forward in the field of CFS/ME care and research.”

In the early spring of 2011, British Columbia’s Ministry of Health announced funding of $2 million for a clinical and research study that will help patients with a variety of complex chronic diseases, such as chronic Lyme disease, fibromyalgia and CFS, with screening, diagnosis and treatment. On Dec. 1, 2011, the Provincial Health Services announced that the new clinic will be housed at the British Columbia Women’s Hospital and Health Center. An opening date has not yet been set, but several regional patient groups are involved in the planning. The Vancouver Sun reported about the new clinic on Dec. 6.

On Nov. 18, 2011, the National Institutes of Health issued two new funding opportunity announcements for investigator-initiated applications listed below. Many other funding opportunity announcements of possible relevance to CFS research are listed in the NIH Guide. Enter the keyword search term or a co-morbid condition and then click the Search button.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has entered into contracts with three physician groups: Dr. Benjamin Natelson (Beth Israel, NY); Dr. Nancy Klimas (Miami, FL); and a consortium formed by Drs. Andy Kogelnik (Open Medicine Institute, Calif.), Daniel Peterson (Sierra Internal Medicine, Nev.), Lucinda Bateman (Fatigue Consultation Clinic, Utah), Charles Lapp (Hunter-Hopkins Center, NC) and Richard Podell (NJ). These physicians will provide CDC with clinical expertise from physicians caring for patients with CFS from multiple clinical practices and will obtain standardized clinical, functional and epidemiologic data to ascertain the extent of heterogeneity within and between clinical practices.  This information in intended to enable CFS researchers to determine a standardized approach to definition use in clinical diagnosis and management of CFS and improve standardization, integration and sharing of CFS data to benefit research. These contract awards were made in response to a May 2011 solicitation and were announced during the CDC’s agency update at the Nov. 9, 2011 meeting of the CFS Advisory Committee.

A new CFS research and clinical care initiative is getting under way at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York under the leadership of Dr. Derek Enlander. There has been no formal announcement by the institution yet; a patient meeting held on Nov. 20, 2011 involved Dr. Eric Schadt and Dr. Miriam Merad of Mt. Sinai and promised more extensive collaborations with other researchers and institutions. The effort has been launched with a $1 million gift made by one of Dr. Enlander’s patients.

On Oct. 3, 2011, the CDC announced access to its large data set from the Wichita clinical study of CFS. The data sets were collected during a two-day in-hospital clinical assessment study conducted from December 2002 to July 2003 in Wichita, KS (referred to as Wichita Clinical Study). The study enrolled 227 people and classified them into five study groups. CFS patients were classified using the 1994 case definition (Fukuda et al., Annals of Internal Medicine). There are 32 data sets including demographic, clinical, laboratory, medication usage, cytokines, endocrine, sleep, single nucleotide polymorphism and gene expression data. For more information about the methods by which data was collected and the specific data sets, please visit

The Chronic Fatigue Initiative, launched Sept. 15, 2011, will provide $10 million from the Hutchins Family Foundation to support research and clinical experts at the world’s leading research institutions. The multi-faceted program will begin by funding projects at Columbia University on pathogen discovery and an epidemiology project at the Harvard School of Public Health. The CFI’s mission is closely aligned with the Solve ME/CFS Initiative’s and the two organizations’ approaches are highly complementary.

Research on chronic comorbid pain disorders, including CFS, has been proposed for 2013 funding through the NIH Common Fund, a special program that supports transformative, cross-cutting, trans-NIH programs that affect several disease areas. “Ideas” for Common Fund support are proposed by NIH staff and comments are invited from the public to shape final decisions about which initiatives are established. The title of the idea that specifically includes CFS is “Chronic Pain Conditions: A Transformative Classification for Stimulating Research, Improving Diagnosis, and Personalizing Treatment.”

The CFIDS Association of America issued a new Request for Applications (RFA) on Apr. 6, 2011, soliciting research proposals for studies that will advance diagnostics and treatments for CFS. The RFA was widely circulated in the research community and Letters of Intent were due on June 3, 2011. Full applications have been invited from 27 eligible investigators whose projects were responsive to the RFA and are due on Sept. 30, 2011. Applications will be reviewed for scientific and strategic merit and funding decisions will be based on both evaluations. Awards will be announced in early 2012.

Dr. Daniel Peterson, one of the early pioneers in CFS care and research, has established a new research foundation, Simmaron Research, to make use of his 25 years of experience and an extensive biorepository of biological samples collected from well-characterized patients. The foundation lists two current collaborations with Bond University in Australia and Wisconsin Viral Research. On Dec. 8, 2011, the Mason Foundation (Australia) announced a four-year, $831,037 award to Bond University and its U.S. collaborators.

The Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) included CFS in its priority topics for the first time in FY11. The Solve ME/CFS Initiative advocated for its inclusion during the FY11 federal funding cycle. This recognition gave researchers another potential source of funding, although applications still must successfully pass peer review. Interested investigators were required to submit pre-applications by May 25, 2011. Applications are now under review.

On Mar. 31, 2011, the UK’s ME Association announced that its Ramsay Fund will support new research into the role of transcription factors (complicated proteins that act at a cellular level as a key part of the body’s initial defensive response to harmful stimuli) in ME/CFS. The study is expected to be completed in 2012.

In March 2011, Stanford University launched a Chronic Fatigue Initiative dedicated to studying infection-associated chronic illnesses, including CFS. Under Dr. Jose Montoya’s leadership, the center will provide clinical care and already has several research projects under way.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Office of New Drugs announced on Jan. 26, 2011 that all new applications for CFS treatments will be assigned to the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Rheumatology Products. This decision may help streamline review of products that were previously scattered to six different review divisions.

In March 2010, the Association established the SolveCFS BioBank, an integrated patient registry and biorepository that collects standardized medical information and biological samples from individuals diagnosed with CFS and control subjects. The SolveCFS BioBank is operated under the Genetic Alliance BioBank using its cooperative cost-sharing model that translates into a tightly controlled, comprehensive infrastructure to serve the dual functions of a patient registry and biorepository. The cooperative structure utilizes standardized protocols, allows for ethical re-contact of subjects and ensures robust privacy and security protections. Since securing institutional and ethical approval for the SolveCFS BioBank in March 2010, we have enrolled 449 CFS patients and controls, all of whom have consented to provide clinical information and donate biological samples. Through our first collaboration with an industry partner, we collected biological samples from 267 participants who met stringent enrollment criteria for this particular study. Testing of those samples has just been completed and the data is being analyzed and prepared for publication. This project not only adds important knowledge to the literature, but serves as a proof-of-concept for the SolveCFS BioBank structure and the ability to attract new partners to the study of CFS.

The NIH Clinical Center is undertaking a study of CFS patients, especially those who have been tested for XMRV with either positive or negative results. The NIH Clinical Center is the nation’s largest hospital devoted exclusively to clinical research. Teams of researchers, including collaborators at academic institutions, translate scientific observations and laboratory discoveries into new approaches for diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. The study has completed enrollment and testing of samples is currently being completed. Results will be submitted for publication.

The Institute of Medicine issued a consensus report on June 29, 2011 on the current state of pain research, care, and education with recommendations for an integrated strategy to address the human suffering and economic toll it takes. Two public meetings held on Nov. 22, 2010 and Jan. 4, 2011 were attended by representatives of the Chronic Pain Research Alliance (formerly the Overlapping Conditions Alliance) and testimony was presented based on recommendations included in the Alliance’s report issued in 2010, “Chronic Pain in Women: Neglect, Dismissal and Discrimination.” In early 2011, the committee sought public comment on barriers to pain care and groups that may not be adequately treated for pain. More than 2,000 individuals submitted comments, which helped shape the report in addition to extensive research. The report, “Relieving Pain in America: Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research,” includes recommendations for immediate and long-term corrective action. Watch the June 29 IOM press conference.

The Institute of Medicine and Department of Health and Human Services hosted The Health Data Initiative Forum on Thursday, June 9, 2011 to accelerate momentum for the public use of data and innovation to improve health. The Forum builds on the success of The Community Health Data Initiative Forum: Harnessing the Power of Information to Improve Health, held in June 2010. It included a number of fast-paced demonstrations that present a range of tools and applications developed using health data, a series of discussion sessions, and a data and apps exposition where participants can interact with featured innovators, learn more about available data, and identify opportunities to expand upon current efforts.

Tags: , December 21, 2011