Research Centers

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded grants to one Collaborative Research Center (CRC) and one Data Management Coordinating Center.

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The Cornell ME/CFS Collaborative Research Center
The Cornell ME/CFS Collaborative Research Center conducts and promotes interdisciplinary research to identify the causes, biomarkers, and pathophysiology of ME/CFS with the goal of developing diagnostic and treatment methods. The Center draws expertise from Cornell's flagship campus and medical college, a local research institute, Ithaca College, and medical practices, utilizing their collective scientific and clinical expertise in advanced neuroimaging techniques, proteomics, metabolism, molecular biology, and genetics.
As an NIH Collaborative Research Center (CRC), Cornell will focus on three main research projects designed to provide unique insights into ME/CFS by studying brain images, molecular markers in blood, and biologic and physiologic characteristics of exercise-induced post-exertional malaise (PEM). PEM is a hallmark symptom of ME/CFS. To simulate PEM for data-gathering purposes, researchers will conduct cardiopulmonary exercise tests using stationary bikes at Weill Cornell Medicine, the Ithaca College Wellness Clinic, and at the medical practice of John Chia, MD, in Los Angeles. The first project uses advanced brain imaging techniques, including MRI and PET, to look for markers of neuroinflammation and oxidative stress before and after exercise, to see if differences in the markers are linked with the disease. The second project will examine proteins, small molecules, and microRNAs in extracellular vesicles before and after exercise to find out whether the contents of vesicles are associated with ME/CFS symptoms. In the third project, Cornell researchers will sequence the RNA in individual white blood cells in people with ME/CFS and healthy individuals before and after exercise, to learn more about the role of gene regulation and the immune system in the disease.
Photo: The Cornell ME/CFS CRC team Credit: Dave Burbank, Cornell Photography The Cornell ME/CFS CRC team Credit: Dave Burbank, Cornell Photography

Partnerships

Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medicine are collaborating with Ithaca College, where the Clinical Core of the Center is located, and with Frank Schroeder, PhD, of Cornell's Boyce Thompson Institute. Physicians Susan Levine, Geoffrey Moore, and John Chia are screening individuals for inclusion in the studies. Betsy Keller, PhD, co-directs the Clinical Core at Ithaca College with Geoffrey Moore, MD. The Cornell CRC is also partnering with Solve ME/CFS Initiative and the American ME and CFS Society to encourage community involvement in research and outreach efforts.

Center Director, Maureen Hanson, PhD
Photo: Center Director, Maureen Hanson, PhD Photo by Dave Burbank
Center Director, Maureen Hanson, PhD Maureen R. Hanson, PhD, is the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics at Cornell University. She directs Cornell's Center for Enervating NeuroImmune Disease and the NIH ME/CFS CRC's project concerning extracellular vesicles as possible mediators or sources of biomarkers for the disease, particularly after an exercise challenge. Students in Cornell's graduate programs in Genetics and Development in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology are performing thesis research on ME/CFS under her supervision. Dr. Hanson's research on the pathophysiology of ME/CFS has encompassed mitochondrial genetics, the gut microbiota, cellular metabolism, gene expression, and immune cell function.
Project Director, Andrew Grimson, PhD
Photo: Project Director, Andrew Grimson, PhD Photo by Dave Burbank
Project Director, Andrew Grimson, PhD Andrew Grimson, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University. The Grimson laboratory specializes in the genomics of gene regulation, the mechanisms used by cells to increase or decrease the production of gene products. Although the causes of ME/CFS remain unknown, substantial evidence suggests that immune cell impairment (or dysregulation) is an underlying cause or major consequence of the disease. To better understand the contribution of specific impaired leukocytes (or white blood cells) to ME/CFS, Dr. Grimson will investigate gene regulation defects from blood samples collected from individuals with ME/CFS and healthy individuals, before and after an exercise session. This novel approach will provide definitive data and better understanding of gene regulatory changes in individuals with ME/CFS.
Project Director, Dikoma C. Shungu, PhD
Photo: Project Director, Dikoma C. Shungu, PhD
Project Director, Dikoma C. Shungu, PhD Dikoma C. Shungu, PhD, is Professor of Physics in Radiology at Weill Cornell Medical Center. His research, conducted at the Medical Center's Laboratory for Advanced Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS), focuses on the development of MRS and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods for biological and clinical research. In his project, Dr. Shungu will use advanced neuroimaging techniques to test and validate a promising pathophysiological model of ME/CFS, which suggests that oxidative stress and neuroinflammation are important mechanisms in the cause and development of this disease. In addition to his prior work on ME/CFS, Dr. Shungu has used neuroimaging methods to study fibromyalgia, Gulf War Illness, schizophrenia, major depression, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders and diseases.
Center Clinical Core Co-Lead, Betsy Keller, PhD
Photo: Center Clinical Core Co-Lead, Betsy Keller, PhD
Center Clinical Core Co-Lead, Betsy Keller, PhD Betsy Keller, PhD, is Co-director of the Clinical Core for the Cornell University ME/CFS CRC. She is a professor and clinician at Ithaca College who has tested persons ill with ME/CFS since 2003 for the purposes of research and to provide an objective assessment of functional capacity and ability to recover from physical work. Often these individuals seek an objective indication of illness status to apply for disability benefits. In addition to her research and clinical work, she served on the committee for the Institute of Medicine to study and develop clinical criteria for the diagnosis of ME/CFS, as well as two sub-committees for NIH NINDS to identify common data elements for the study of ME/CFS.
Center Clinical Core Co-Lead, Geoff Moore, MD
Photo: Center Clinical Core Co-Lead, Geoff Moore, MD
Center Clinical Core Co-Lead, Geoff Moore, MD Geoff Moore, MD, is Co-director of the Clinical Core for the Cornell University ME/CFS CRC. He has worked extensively with patients with chronic diseases and health disparities. In addition, Geoff has a strong research background with grant-funded work in basic physiological mechanisms of exercise intolerance in chronic disease. He co-edited texts for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) on Exercise Management for Persons with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities, and contributed to ACSM'S Resource Manual for the Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Clinically, his work has focused on lifestyle management to improve health status in addition to sports medicine. He is owner of Healthy Living & Exercise Medicine Associates and Chief Medical Officer of Wellcoaches Digital.
Center Manager, Carl Franconi, MS
Photo: Center Manager, Carl Franconi, MS
Center Manager, Carl Franconi, MS Carl Franconi, MS, is Center Manager for the Cornell University ME/CFS CRC and Manager of Dr. Hanson's lab in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University. He has a foundation in microbiology and molecular biology that started at the University of South Florida where he earned a BS in Microbiology and a MS in Cell & Molecular Biology. Prior to joining the Center, Carl was a Biological Administrator and Scientist for an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He brings laboratory and data management, collaborator coordination, and quality assurance experience.
Center Integrative Data Analysis Core Co-Lead, Jennifer Grenier, PhD
Photo: Center Integrative Data Analysis Core Co-Lead, Jennifer Grenier, PhD
Center Integrative Data Analysis Core Co-Lead, Jennifer Grenier, PhD Jen Grenier, PhD is Co-Lead of the Integrative Data Analysis Core (IDAC) and Director of the Transcriptional Regulation and Expression (T-REx) Facility and the Genomics Innovation (GI) Hub at Cornell University. She has 20 years of experience in technology development, most recently in project management and data analysis for genomics applications. Prior to creating the T-REx and GI labs at Cornell, Jen worked at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA, and at small biotechnology companies in Madison, WI. Jen has a PhD in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BS in Biological Sciences from Stanford.

Dr. Betsy Keller and Dr. Maureen Hanson at the Beyond the Symptom: The Biology of Fatigue workshop: ME/CFS introduction and immune dysfunction in ME/CFS.

Dr. Maureen Hanson provides an update on Cornell Center research at MassME 2021.

Dr. Maureen Hanson provides a Pecha Kucha for ME/CFS.

Graduate student, Jessica Maya, talks about where ME/CFS immune cells get their energy, or ale.

Dr. Betsy Keller on PEM at Swedish RME Society Lecture

Dr. Alexandra Mandarano on altered T cell metabolism and dysregulated cytokine associations in ME/CFS

Dr. Maureen Hanson on Immune Dysregulation in ME/CFS at 14th Invest in ME Research International ME Conference

Dr. Maureen Hanson on Immune System Function of ME/CFS at Inaugural Harvard Symposium

Interested in participating in research?

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Interdisciplinary Canadian Collaborative Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ICanCME) Research Network
The Interdisciplinary Canadian Collaborative Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ICanCME) Research Network, with headquarters located at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre in Montreal, is a national research network funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Directed by Alain Moreau, PhD, the research network comprises an interdisciplinary and collaborative team of researchers, clinical scientists, trainees, patients, caregivers, and advocates who are committed to working together to support the ICanCME Research Network's vision, mission, and strategic pillars.
The vision of the network is to focus on initiating, supporting, and sustaining innovative and collaborative Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) research in Canada. Our bold mission is committed to a patient-centred research program from discovery to implementation science to study and understand the complex pathophysiology of ME. Ultimately the network aims to establish collaborative work by bringing different fields of study together to develop novel approaches to test and treat ME.

The activities of the network are centered around three strategic pillars:
  1. Build a catalyst-accelerator program to fill existing gaps in ME research, stimulate new discoveries and sustain excellence in ME research in Canada.
  2. Develop a sustainable research infrastructure for ME and implement the integration and standardization of databases and biobanking procedures.
  3. Develop talent to enhance ME research capacity and excellence in research.

The network will play an important role in coordinating efforts of Canadian and international stakeholders, and transforming the ME research landscape in Canada and beyond.

Partnerships

The ICanCME Research Network has formed partnerships with three national organizations, Millions Missing Canada, Action CIND, and the National ME/FM Action Network, as well with several provincial ME organizations including l'Association Québécoise de l'Encéphalomyélite Myalgique (AQEM), the ME/FM Society of BC, and the broader patient community to initiate, develop and sustain an ME research ecosystem across Canada.

Network Director, Alain Moreau, PhD
Photo: Network Director, Alain Moreau, PhD
Network Director, Alain Moreau, PhD Alain Moreau, PhD, is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Dentistry (Stomatology Department), cross-appointed to the Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine Department in the Faculty of Medicine at Université de Montréal. He served as Director of Research and Chief Scientific Officer of Sainte-Justine University Hospital (2013-2016). He is currently Director of two national research networks - the Interdisciplinary Canadian Collaborative Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ICanCME) Research Network and the Network for Canadian Oral Health Research (NCOHR) - funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and serves on the Advisory Board of CIHR’s Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA).

Dr. Moreau is an internationally recognized expert on the molecular genetics of pediatric scoliosis. His discoveries led to multiple peer-reviewed papers, international conferences as a guest speaker, several awards as well as 60 patents covering innovative diagnostic tests and therapeutic molecules. Dr. Moreau is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Inception Therapeutic Inc., a start-up based in Montreal developing diagnostic tests for primary osteoarthritis and new disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs. Dr. Moreau’s primary research interests also target other complex adult diseases such as osteoarthritis and myalgic encephalomyelitis.
National Network Coordinator, Iona Worden-Driscoll
Photo: National Network Coordinator, Iona Worden-Driscoll
National Network Coordinator, Iona Worden-Driscoll Iona Worden-Driscoll holds a BSc in Mathematics and Statistics and an MBA from Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada). She has extensive management and research experience, having worked as a coordinator for other CIHR-funded research networks and an operations manager and research consultant within industry. She oversees the functioning of the ICanCME Research Network's activities as well as provides a liaison between network members and stakeholders with the view to identify opportunities for increased partnership and collaboration.

Interested in participating in research?

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Data Management and Coordinating Center
RTI International (RTI) leads the Data Management and Coordinating Center (DMCC) for the multi-center ME/CFS Collaborative Research Network. In this capacity, RTI will provide advanced computing systems and expertise to bring together research data from the CRCs into a unified multi-omic database, which combines information from studies looking at genes, proteins, immune function, etc. This data management, analytic support, and coordination will promote the development of new ideas to enhance ME/CFS research by augmenting existing CRC expertise and fostering partnerships among the CRCs and the broader research community.
RTI will foster increased transparency and collaboration within the ME/CFS community by coordinating the Network's community outreach activities and hosting a public website. RTI, a large nonprofit research institute, has served as a data coordinating center for more than 40 multi-site/multi-study research networks, including networks focused in maternal and child health, traumatic brain injury, pelvic floor disorders, blood banking and transfusion medicine, sickle cell disease, Zika virus, and other emerging health challenges.
Photo: RTI Data Management and Coordinating Center team RTI Data Management and Coordinating Center team

Partnerships

RTI is partnering with Solve ME/CFS Initiative to engage the patient community in its research efforts.

Center Director, Linda Morris Brown, MPH, DrPH
Photo: Center Director, Linda Morris Brown, MPH, DrPH
Center Director, Linda Morris Brown, MPH, DrPH Linda Morris Brown, MPH, DrPH, is a senior research epidemiologist at RTI International. In this capacity, Dr. Brown directs data coordinating centers for large multi-site clinical trials and epidemiologic studies; conducts epidemiologic research and analyzes epidemiologic data for large-scale, multi-disciplinary studies in the United States and worldwide; and performs quality assurance data audits of health data. Dr. Brown is the Center Director for RTI's Data Management and Coordinating Center for the ME/CFS Collaborative Research Network. Before joining RTI, Dr. Brown served for 30 years as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health and was Assistant Chief in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics for 10 years.

Interested in participating in research?

Funding provided through grants U54-AI-178855 and U24-NS-105535 supported by:

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Grants that fund MECFSnet are managed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This website was supported by a grant from NIH, grant #U24-NS-105535.

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Website design and development by RTI International. RTI is a registered trademark and trade name of Research Triangle Institute. The RTI logo is a registered trademark of Research Triangle Institute.

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What is ME/CFS?

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a multi-system disease that causes dysfunction of the neurological, immune, endocrine, and energy metabolism systems.