ME Research UK is a charity dedicated solely to funding biomedical research projects into the causes, consequences and treatment of ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). In its guidelines to clinicians, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence states that ME/CFS “...is a relatively common illness. The physical symptoms can be as disabling as rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure and other chronic conditions. This places a substantial burden on people with the condition, their families and carers, and as a result, on society.”
Despite this, it’s widely acknowledged that ME/CFS has faced significant under-investment in biomedical research over the years. Not just in the UK, but also overseas. Within the UK specifically, ME/CFS receives little funding compared to other neurological disorders. MS affects about 100,000 people compared to the 250,000 estimated to have ME/CFS, but has received 20 times the funding.
ME Research UK is Working Towards Changing the Injustice Through Investing in High Quality Biomedical Research World-Wide.
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the foundation and they have invested almost £1.6 million in 50 distinct studies involving many of the systems of the body. These are actual projects placed at some of the world’s leading universities and institutions, and ultimately leading to papers published in high impact factor biomedical journals. Despite being a small organisation, in terms of projects undertaken, the charity is the largest funder of research into ME/CFS outside North America, but they are keenly aware that so much more needs to be done. All work the charity does is advanced without government or Lottery funding. ME Research UK exists due to the faith placed in them by individual donors, other charities, and various funding partners. They strive to obtain maximum research outcomes from limited resources.
Apart from their own funded projects (presently in the UK, USA, Belgium and Austria), in the past they have co-funded several studies with allies – such as the National Institutes of Health, the Medical Research Council, and other supporters. With their scientific knowledge and contacts worldwide, ME Research UK is uniquely placed to nurture new projects and to introduce new researchers into the field of ME/CFS study – in fact in 2020 they launched a PhD funding programme. This model ensures that any funds entrusted to the charity will make a real difference to research into ME/CFS. Every proposal is peer-reviewed to assess the scientific merit, methodology and costs of the proposed project. In this way, the funds are protected and utilised only for solid, scientifically valid biomedical research. The charity also insists upon the results of such studies being published in peer-reviewed journals, thus enabling their outcomes to be disseminated throughout the scientific community. In this way, the research-base of the illness is widened and enriched. Through ME Research UK’s grants, researchers are often able to approach larger funders e.g. the MRC for major funding thus magnifying the impact of our work.
Research into ME is vital – and with your help – the charity can make it happen.
This month, in honour of ME Awareness Week on the 6th May, and ME Awareness Day on the 12th, we are thrilled to be supporting ME Research UK in our charity poll. Cast your vote today and help fund vital research into ME! Find out more about the charity and their work at http://www.meresearch.org.uk/.