The Solve ME/CFS Initiative is pleased to announce the appointment of Zaher Nahle, PhD, MPA, as its Vice President for Research and Scientific Programs, effective June 29. Dr. Nahle has a PhD in Physiology and Biophysics from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Stony Brook University and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Nahle also completed post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard and Stony Brook. He emerged as the clear choice for the position after a rigorous two-month international search, which included many extraordinary candidates.
SMCI President Carol Head says that Dr. Nahle’s appointment will help build upon the research momentum of late. “ME/CFS is the kind of complex problem that attracts brilliant, inquisitive researchers who thrive on using rigorous science to attack complex problems,” she says. “We are very fortunate to have Dr. Nahle leading the Solve ME/CFS Initiative research on behalf of the patient community.”
Dr. Nahle is an award-winning scientist with interdisciplinary training in biomedical research and public administration. His awards include the Army Breast Cancer Fellowship Award, the American Heart Association Career Development Award (BGIA) and the National Priorities Research Award (QF). He has a history of securing prestigious funding in healthcare and patient-oriented research and has generated $7.4 million in total research funding through direct competitions and philanthropic solicitations. His additional areas of expertise include: research portfolio management and public/private partnerships.
Dr. Nahle has published more than 22 interdisciplinary research papers in prestigious journals, including Nature, Nature Cell Biology, the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Oncogene. His PhD thesis focused on studying the molecular mechanisms of programmed cell death and genomic instability using unbiased, high throughput technologies. This work used a range of innovative methodologies and large-scale bioinformatics; the discoveries remain highly cited in the fields of molecular biology and genetics.
Dr. Nahle served as principal investigator and laboratory head at several universities, including Vanderbilt, Cornell and Washington University in St. Louis. As principal investigator, he led research teams and developed scientific programs, lending his hands-on expertise in biomedical protocols, procedures and techniques and project design and management.
He is cofounder of a charitable organization, Ibrak Partners, which has branches in the United States and Kenya and works to improve policies and provide services for children with physical disabilities in poor and neglected areas.
Dr. Scott W. Lowe, Professor and Chair at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who served as Dr. Nahle’s PhD adviser, says that his approach to science will serve him well as he delves into the massive challenge that ME/CFS research presents.
“He is extraordinarily driven and a creative thinker who can grasp complex problems,” Dr. Lowe says. “He’s an excellent scientist, and his ability to obtain NIH funding and publish distinguished papers separates him from the rest in the field.”
Kenneth Feinberg, who served as Special Master of the U.S. government including the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund and taught Dr. Nahle Alternative Dispute Resolution at Harvard Law School, agrees. “In a Harvard class of exceptional students, Zaher stood out as the finest student,” Feinberg said. “His ability to synthesize and articulate complex concepts is extraordinary.”
Dr. Nahle is eager to begin making a contribution to the field of ME/CFS research, which has yielded too few breakthroughs for far too long. “I feel very fortunate to be the one entrusted with leading the research effort and scientific programs on this very challenging and urgent medical problem and to be able to work alongside talented colleagues and a visionary patient-CEO,” Dr. Nahle says. “Truly, this is an incredible opportunity to establish durable collaborations within the scientific, medical and patient communities toward finding solutions for this insidious disease, which is woefully understudied, underfunded and underestimated.”
Carol Head says the Solve ME/CFS Initiative is just as fortunate. “Zaher is not only a brilliant intellect, but he also has the background in public administration that’s needed to navigate the landscape that continues to shape this disease,” she says. “The fact that he also founded a charitable organization to assist vulnerable populations clearly demonstrates his innate humanity and compassion, which our patient community so badly needs.”