December Research 1st – Dr. Nahle’s Letter

Dear Friends,

decr1stlettergraphicThe results of the 2016 Ramsay Award Program are in!

The Ramsay Award Program is a newly announced, annual research grants competition in basic, preclinical, clinical, and epidemiological research open to investigators at any career stage who are interested in studying ME/CFS.

As described before, the program’s three main objectives are to 1) invest in original ideas that could clarify the onset, progression, root causes, and natural history of ME/CFS; 2) create permissive environments to attract, support, and retain talent in the ME/CFS community and help awardees generate relevant data to compete for long-term federal funding; and 3) facilitate collaboration and cross-pollination among researchers through the sharing of resources and access.

We have five new outstanding partners in research joining our network in 2016, and we are thrilled to support the work of these talented scientists from around the world as they expand our understanding of ME/CFS. Awards were announced in early December following a competitive peer-review process. All five research teams are committed to ME/CFS research. They explore diverse and promising areas including autoimmunity, natural killer (NK) cell function, mitochondrial myopathies, metabolic profiling, viral infection, bioenergetics heath index characterization, low grade inflammation, immune dysfunction, diagnostic testing, and advanced brain imaging—to name a few. Because so little is understood about ME/CFS, we don’t have any one dogma; we fund grants across broad areas of study. These five studies also fall into various phases of the discovery process, which includes capacity building, target discovery, preclinical research, and clinical research.

The complementary strengths of investigators from different fields add synergy and depth to these projects. For instance, we actively brought together a UK-based team at the University College London, which has been at the forefront of B-cell biology and rituximab-based therapy, and an Australian team that made pioneering contributions to the emerging area of metabolic profiling in ME/CFS. Now they will work collaboratively to advance the science through their collective thinking. We at SMCI recognize the desperate need for rapid therapeutic outcomes, including clinical trials for rituximab and other promising therapeutic avenues.

Another example is the combination of expertise in immune dysfunction with that in mitochondrial biology and bioenergetic health index characterization, which will work toward diagnostic testing and a better understanding of the molecular basis of the disease. Other projects pair the power of advanced technologies with deep, basic science investigation, combining brain imaging with neuroinflammation, autoimmune profiling with genetic screening, and infection-induced triggers with mitochondrial dysfunction in ME/CFS.

Our Ramsay Award Program facilitates the work of investigators tackling complex issues in ME/CFS research through systematic and methodical investigations. It is gratifying to see that 60% of lead principal investigator awardees are women investigators.

These new partnerships are a key element of our overall research and scientific programs that also include the recently announced Cathleen J. Gleeson PhD Fund, our biobank and patient registry programs, and many targeted initiatives in areas such as biomarker discovery, gut microbiome, bioenergetics, immunosenescence, and drug screening investigation.

Congratulations to the winning research teams; we look forward to reviewing your results in 2017.

Yours,

Zaher Nahle
Vice President for Research and Scientific Programs
Solve ME/CFS Initiative