On Wednesday 7th June 2006, Dr Vance Spence and Dr Neil Abbot travelled to the Millbank offices of the House of Commons in London for a presentation at the third oral hearing of the Group on Scientific Research into ME (Gibson Parliamentary Inquiry).
The Group was established by Dr Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North, who was a working scientist himself, latterly Dean of Biology at East Anglia, was head of a research team investigating cancer, and had been awarded a ‘Champion’ award by Macmillan Cancer Relief. His aim behind the formation of the Group is to assess the progress of scientific research on ME on behalf of ME patients and researchers alike. The terms of reference for the Group are “
to assess the progress of scientific research on ME, since the publication of the Chief Medical Officer’s Working Group Report into CFS/ME in 2002. In particular the group has been established to increase public understanding of scientific research into ME/CFS; evaluate progress in the development of a full programme of research into ME/CFS; identify research and funding requirements in establishing the cause of ME/CFS.”
The Group has scheduled five oral hearings during May and June 2006, and will publish a report of its findings for public dissemination by the autumn of 2006, with the aim of stimulating public debate on the subject and acting as a catalyst for increased funding into research into the illness.
Dr Spence’s presentation was called ‘ME/CFS scientific research: CMO report and beyond’, and contained evidence on the lack of progress since the Chief Medical Officer’s report of 2002, specific reasons for lack of progress (including problems with case definition, the influence of the biopsychosocial model of the illness, the undervaluing of biomedical research findings), and a call for national ring-fencing of funds for biomedical research.