The news didn’t make much of a splash, but NIH recently issued a funding opportunity announcement that could benefit people with CFS. This purpose of this funding opportunity is to support “collaborative translational research projects” aimed at turning basic discoveries into “clinical applications that improve health.”
Unlike other NIH program announcements for ME/CFS, this one is focused on collaborations between NIH investigators at the NIH Clinical Center and researchers at labs outside NIH. The NIH Clinical Center has pioneered many treatments, including the first trial of AZT in AIDS patients and many new chemotherapy treatments. Dr. Harvey Alter, known to many CFS patients because of his involvement in the XMRV saga, is Associate Director of Research in the Department of Transfusion Medicine at the Clinical Center and a member of the Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group.
The NIH Clinical Center has an extraordinary set of resources for translational research, including banked specimens, high grade equipment, healthy volunteers, and experience in clinical trials. How could this be relevant for ME/CFS? Imagine bringing patients into the clinic for a pathogen study or complete neurological workups. Imagine accessing the best equipment and researchers to analyze spinal fluid from patients and controls. Most projects into the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of CFS could be done in partnership with the Clinical Center.
Fourteen institutes at NIH joined together on this program announcement, including the Office of Research on Women’s Health which chose to highlight ME/CFS as an area of interest for this funding:
One of the goals of the WG is to increase focus on collaborative ME/CFS research by identifying NIH resources that may be useful to advance the translational research within this field. ORWH encourages applications from investigators to address research questions focused on the etiology, diagnosis, underlying mechanism, or treatment of ME/CFS.
Note that this announcement is not an RFA with dedicated money set aside, and many areas of interest are highlighted. However, this represents an extraordinary opportunity for CFS researchers. NIH is offering a pre-application webinar on January 11th for interested applicants. I hope we will see applications from institutions and researchers in the CFS world to collaborate with the Clinical Center.