Major Researcher Gets Major Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Grant


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
[bimg=fright|no-lightbox][/bimg]I'll have more on this later but suffice it to say that recipient of this grant - Derya Unutmaz - is a major researcher working in one of the top research facilities in the world. Suzanne Vernon somehow got his attention and sent him some free samples. What he found piqued his interested - so he expanded the study to get more data.

That apparently worked out as well - and now he's got a $3,000,000 dollar five year grant to study the immunology of ME/CFS. You don't get this kind of grant, by the way, without some darn good pilot data..


He's going to dig deep into the innate immune system including looking at the functioning of T, NK cells and other immune cells. We've had studies showing that NK cell functioning sucks in ME/CFS, and one study showed that T cell functioning does as well, but I don't think we've ever had a researcher of this standing do this. This is apparently going to be a very large study. (The rest of the grant I don't understand - which is probably a good sign (lol).)

The Jackson Laboratory is a brand new laboratory using the cutting edge technology which employs almost 2,000 people. Check out their news and insights here to see the latest. (We are on that page :)).

This is a big deal; this is exactly the kind of researcher and kind of research environment we want in ME/CFS and its the kind of big grant we'd expect the NIAID to fund....Good for them

From the study abstract

The guiding hypothesis is that immune perturbations, particularly to the effector functions of T cell and innate cell (natural killer and myeloid) subsets, contribute to pathogenesis of ME/CFS and that these immune signatures can be used as predictive biomarkers.

We will address this hypothesis using a cutting-edge immunogenomics approach based on integrated, high-resolution functional and transcriptomic profiling of immune cell subsets within the blood samples of a large, clinically characterized ME/CFS patient cohort and healthy controls.

We will then examine the transcriptional alterations associated with ME/CFS within T and innate cell subsets, with a focus on long non–coding RNAs, owing to their high cell- type-specificity and impact on immune cell development.

Our Specific Aims are:
  1. To determine the frequencies of immune cell subsets in the blood of a clinically defined ME/CFS patient cohort;
  2. To assess functional capacity of memory T cells, innate cells and the differentiation potential of naive T cells during ME/CFS; and
  3. To determine the T cell and innate cell subset–specific gene and lncRNA transcripts in ME/CFS patient blood samples.
Our goal is to develop a detailed functional and genetic immunological framework that can be used to
  • decode the mechanisms of ME/CFS and
  • to develop robust, quantitative immune-biomarker sets for predicting disease susceptibility, stratifying patients and guiding treatment strategies.
We have assembled a unique team of experts in human immunology, clinical ME/CFS biology for well-defined patient samples, non-coding RNAs, transcriptomics and bioinformatics, together will contribute to the deep and complimentary expertise necessary to bring about this goal.

The Press Release

NIAID funding to Jackson Laboratory researcher to investigate chronic fatigue syndrome

IMAGE: Immunologist Derya Unutmaz, M.D., is undertaking a large, patient-based study of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), the debilitating and mysterious condition more generally known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). view more

Credit: Jackson Laboratory photo by Marie Chao

Professor Derya Unutmaz, M.D., of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, will receive five years of funding -- totaling $3,281,515 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases -- to find better ways to diagnose and treat myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), the debilitating and mysterious condition more generally known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans suffer from ME/CFS. Symptoms include profound fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, sleep abnormalities and pain.

Researchers have identified several potential environmental triggers and faulty immune system components associated with ME/CFS, but the immunological basis for the disease remains murky. Moreover, the symptoms and severity of ME/CFS vary widely among patients.

Unutmaz proposes to undertake a major study of ME/CFS patients, screening blood samples for potential immunological biomarkers of the disease, and using the results to develop better diagnostic tools and personalized treatments for the disease.
The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution with more than 1,700 employees. Headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine, it has a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.
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Active Member
How is it these new researchers get money thrown at them while the established researchers keep getting nothing?


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
How is it these new researchers get money thrown at them while the established researchers keep getting nothing?
It depends on what you mean by established....Unutmaz is very established in his field but he's not well established in ME/CFS. I would guess that there are few immunologists, if any, (Fletcher?) working in ME/CFS who have his background and none with his access to new technologies.

We don't have a big "bench" really; getting well-known researchers associated with large labs and whom other researchers trust is a major achievement. We actually want a lot of new names in this field.

You could say well what about Ron Davis? Unutmaz is new but he's not really new. He's benefiting from his past research on ME/CFS; he's got some good pilot data and a good hypothesis.

Ron has a great idea but the NIH wants pilot data and hypotheses. He's gathering his pilot data now. Once he has that he's going to be able to come with hypotheses that the NIH should fund. (The NIH apparently only wants to fund studies that test hypotheses). I would be shocked if we don't see big grants coming to Ron Davis as well.

Tony L

Active Member
Brilliant news, top immunologist on board with funding to get solid ME data into top Journals. The more fresh eyes brought into our field the better and the quicker things will improve for us.


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member

San Diego

Well-Known Member
Great news - looking forward to your update., Cort

Don't forget to chec out Cort's report on Unutmaz's SCMI pilot study that powered his application for this new grant
HIV, Heart Disease, Diabetes... and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? The Unutmaz Project to Decode ME/CFS - Health Rising
Awesome quote in Cort’s update:

“It is more important to know what kind of a person has a disease than to know what kind of a disease a person has.” – Hippocrates

Thankfully, it only took a few centuries for medical research to take heed. :smuggrin:


Well-Known Member
not sure if this has been posted somewhere already, but I read this in the Bateman Horne Center newsletter:
Dr. Lucinda Bateman and Suzanne D. Vernon, PhD are Co-Investigators on this project and our Research Ready army will provide the most important part – the required blood samples and correlating clinical information for the participating samples.

they are asking for people to take part. more info here:

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