From the desk of Ronald Tompkins, MD, ScD
Chief Medical Officer, Open Medicine Foundation
I am pleased to call attention to two up-and-coming researchers assisting with the OMF-funded Harvard ME/CFS collaboration. Dr. Rosa Maria Pari Ñaña of Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Dr. Dan Wilkinson of the University of Nottingham have each been awarded prestigious grants for ME/CFS research by the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. This is the first time since 2010 that the program has considered applications for ME/CFS research.
Entitled the 2020 “Discovery Award,” the grant is awarded to young investigators. Together, the two awards total $547,201 over the next two years.
Recently, OMF had the pleasure to chat with Dr. Wilkinson about his team’s work and what it means to receive this grant for ME/CFS research. In collaboration with his mentors Profs Philip Atherton and Paul Greenhaff, Dr. Wilkinson’s research uses novel proteomic analytical approaches to better understand the molecular basis for post-exertional malaise in skeletal muscle, a key symptom in people with ME/CFS:
What motivated you to pursue the field of ME/CFS research?
When researching the disease, I was shocked to discover just how prevalent it was, and despite the prevalence and years of dedicated research within the field, how little is still known about the underlying pathology driving ME/CFS.
It is my hope that the new techniques proposed in this research could assist in uncovering the unknown causes of ME/CFS, which could be vital for understanding this disease going forward.
Left to right: Dr. Dan Wilkinson, Professor Paul Greenhaff, and Professor Philip Atherton
What is your team’s current research focus?
We are collaborating with Dr. Ron Tompkins and Dr. Wenzhong Xiao, co-directors of the OMF-funded Harvard ME/CFS collaboration, to better understand how chronic low levels of physical activity can potentially cloud the cause of ME/CFS. We hope to build on this research by combining the technological and biological expertise of both teams.
What do you most hope to achieve from your team’s current research?
Our biggest hope is that this work will have a positive impact on the lives of people suffering from ME/CFS. With no effective diagnostic tests or interventions currently available, a different approach to investigating this disease is greatly needed. We hope the novel approaches we are proposing in this project could aid in the development of diagnostic tools and effective treatments.
What gives me the most hope is the rapid advances in technology, which are facilitating our work to understand human disease and underlying pathology. With continuing technological developments, our understanding of this complex condition will be greatly improved and our chances of improving the quality of life for ME/CFS sufferers will also improve.
*Stay tuned for an interview with ME/CFS researcher Dr. Rosa Maria Pari Ñaña on her Discovery Award research entitled, “Neurovascular Dysregulation in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” *
We hope that you’re as inspired as we are to have these bright young researchers join OMF in our quest to find a diagnosis, treatment and a cure for ME/CFS and related chronic, complex diseases.
We can’t fund these critical studies without your support.
As 2020 comes to a close, please consider giving the gift of hope by
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