Invest in ME Research
Christmas/New Year Fund Appeal Advent Calendar

Encouraging Young Researchers/Doctors to ME

Our advent calendar for Christmas was intended to highlight some of the issues with ME.

This can seem to be quite a negative and sad environment as many of the issues have depended on change being made in establishment organisations that seem to have little interest at all in patients.

So we also wish to show what is being done to overcome the situations that ME patients find themselves in.

One major issue is that we have to facilitate biomedical research into ME and fund it. Invest in ME Research is doing that.

Another area that feeds into this is the need for new research talent to enter the field.

Medical students receive extremely poor education on ME in their curriculum - sometimes even nothing.

Not only is this negligent, as young doctors are subsequently unqualified to deal with ME, but it also means that potential recruits to ME research and treatment positions are limited by ignorance of the condition. Medical students are unaware of the career opportunities.

IiMER took this up with the General Medical Council in 2010 - read more here

The reply was underwhelming.

One way to get around this problem was to make students aware of the research that was being undertaken. With the help of the University of East Anglia Medical School the charity was able to fund and facilitate the participation of a number of medical students in the research being performed at Norwich Research Park.

Our idea was to fund the inclusion of medical students in research via a process of intercalation during their fourth year of medical studies.

This led to collaboration with research at Oxford University with Professor Angela Vincent and with Dr Lesley Hoyles at Imperial College London.

This has been successful.
Apart from influencing opinions of their peers the medical students have been very active and well received in the research teams.

Navena Navaneetharaja was one medical student funded by IiMER and Navena spent time with Professor Maureen Hanson at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York - developing another of IiMER's 'strategies in forging international collaboration in research.
Navena and fellow co-funded student Verity Griffiths had this paper published A Role for the Intestinal Microbiota and Virome in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?

At our international conferences we have arranged a student panel session where students can answer questions from the audience about their experiences.

We did this to encourage other young researchers and enable the students to experience an international conference from the hot seats.

The charity is currently funding four PhD students at Quadram Institute Bioscence/UEA and UCL.

Thinking the Future network

To ensure that a foundation of biomedical research into ME can be sustained and to encourage new ideas from new areas then we cannot rely just on this family of researchers that has been built up from all parts of the world.

We need to draw in knowledge and expertise from other areas – as we have been doing for many years with our research Colloquiums and international Conferences.

Importantly, we also need to encourage early career researchers – and young researchers.

As part of the EMERG (European ME Research Group) concept - which aims to build a network of close European biomedical research collaboration to make rapid advances in research and funding for ME - in 2018 the charity initiated the young/early career researcher conference - Thinking the Future - an initiative to build a network of new and young research capacity for the future.

Future Developments

The Thinking the Future network will have the opportunity for developing this group of international, early career researchers which will, in turn, facilitate further international collaboration in research into ME and new ideas being formulated. In fact we have already had several meetings with NIH to collaborate on developing this network.

New events are planned for 2019 with one Thinking the Future in Washington and another in London.

Here is our information poster for the event -

Further Reading:

  1. Education on ME - The General Medical Council Position

  2. A Role for the Intestinal Microbiota and Virome in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?

  3. Thinking the Future London 2019

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