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Building a brighter research future – step by step

ME Research UK believes that a sustainable ecosystem of biomedical research is needed to understand the causes and consequences of ME/CFS, and to discover an eventual treatment/cure. We know that this is also what those affected by the disease and their carers wish to see.

To achieve this, researchers with fresh, novel ideas have to be recruited and encouraged to undertake research in the field. This is the most difficult task of all, not least since government funding via the established research agencies is hard to access for individuals and for groups wishing to research ME/CFS.

It is at this leading edge that ME Research UK sees its role: to give help to biomedical scientists at key stages of their career for novel research projects that would otherwise not be funded, and to support research groups to the stage where they can apply, on the basis of their previously published work, to major funding agencies for support.

As the Dept of Health & Social Care say in My full reality: the interim delivery plan on ME/CFS, “There is low capacity and capability among the research community to respond to research needs in this area.”

This is why, with the help of our supporters, we have developed a unique 3-step approach:

Step 1 – PhD-level research

Tailored specifically to attract students at a pivotal junction in their research career, ME Research UK offers funding to allow a PhD candidate to research a topic relating to the causes, consequences and treatment of ME/CFS. Funding is not geographically limited and last the 3 years of a normal PhD course. By facilitating their career path it is hoped that researchers will continue in their ME/CFS work after graduating, as well as providing established research groups with fresh talent.

We believe that future progress in understanding ME/CFS lies in research, and the future of research depends on investing now in scientists at the beginning of their careers.

Jonathan Davies, Chair of ME Research UK

Step 2 – Fellowships

ME Research UK co-sponsors a three-year Daphne Jackson Fellowship which is open to post-doctoral scientists who wish to return to research within a UK university or research institution after a career break of two or more years. The results of postdoctoral ME/CFS research are envisaged to be published and so will add to scientific understanding of the disease. The Fellow will hopefully continue with their now newly re-established research career at a level where their work can have real impact.

Step 3 – Project grants

ME Research UK offers project grants to applicants who are established researchers based at a suitable host institutions such as a university, hospital or recognised academic research institute. Awards are not geographically limited and contracts are between ME Research UK and the host institution.

ME Research UK’s projects cover a number of research areas including brain and nervous system, immune system, and cardiac issues, and have been hosted at institutions in the UK, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the USA.

And beyond….the next step

ME Research UK has provided the pilot funding for many distinct projects, which have allowed researchers such as Prof. Julia Newton in Newcastle to accumulate the data on which her successful application to the MRC was based. As she says, “This success shows what can be achieved by biomedical researchers working closely with medical research charities in a supportive and collaborative way.”

Prof. Julia Newton and Dr Vance Spence, Chairman of ME Research UK, in May 2014 at Newcastle University

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