Postdoctoral Fellowship to Foster Trans-Atlantic ME/CFS Research Collaboration

Solve M.E. partners with Action for M.E. on two-year research fellowship focused on identifying molecular drivers of ME/CFS

May 2021–Solve M.E. and Action for M.E. are excited to share that Dr. Chris Ponting and Dr. Liz Worthey will work with a postdoctoral fellow as part of the Solve/Action for M.E. trans-Atlantic partnership.

This two-year, jointly funded, $170,000 (£120,000) fellowship is designed to prepare researchers early in their career to excel in studies focusing on applying computational biology, biostatistics, quantitative genetic and data science to understanding the molecular basis of M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis). Information on applying for the fellowship will be shared in coming weeks.

Dr. Ponting co-leads DecodeME, the largest ever ME/CFS genetic study, which is recruiting 25,000 participants. The study aims to aid development of diagnostic tests and targeted treatments by pinpointing differences in the genetic material (DNA) that may affect risk of developing ME/CFS and reveal underlying causes of the condition. Genome-wide studies have helped uncover causes of other complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.

“I am delighted to join forces with Liz Worthey to begin training the next generation of ME/CFS big data researchers,” said Dr. Ponting. “Together we will identify DNA differences that increase someone’s risk of ME/CFS. We’re very grateful to Solve M.E. and Action for M.E. for catalyzing this research opportunity.”

Dr. Worthey’s ME/CFS research includes a whole genome sequencing project, in collaboration with Dr. Camille Birch and Dr. Jarred Younger, supported by a Solve M.E. Ramsay Award on whether ME/CFS is the result of an intrinsic genetic defect identifiable based on whole genome or RNA sequencing. The research focuses on identifying rare molecular variation in pathways that leads to or impacts the course of the illness. 

“This fellowship will strengthen our ability to bring cutting-edge computational approaches to identify the molecular underpinnings of ME/CFS disease risk,” said Dr. Worthey. “It will also reinforce crucial international scientific collaborations towards that critical goal.”

“The fellowship is designed to maximize development opportunities for the successful candidate,” said Sonya Chowdhury, chief executive of Action for M.E. “It offers a stepping-stone for researchers from PhD level into a career in the ME/CFS field supported by world class scientists with whom they can nurture their skills, knowledge and experience.”

Dr. Ponting is chair of Medical Bioinformatics at the University of Edinburgh, group leader in the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit and vice chair of the CFS/ME Research Collaborative. He has a PhD in biophysics from the University of Oxford. 

Dr. Worthey is an associate professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, director of the Center for Computational Genomics and Data Sciences and associate director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute at the University of Alabama Birmingham. She has a PhD in genetics from Imperial College London. 

About Action for M.E.

UK charity Action for M.E. empowers people with ME to fulfill their potential and secure the care and support they need, while working towards a greater understanding of the illness and ultimately a cure. Alongside providing targeted information, support and advocacy to young people and adults with M.E., we offer peer-support services that reduce the isolation that so often comes with ME We work closely with professionals and policy-makers to improve access to appropriate care and support services, and collaborate with scientists, patients and clinicians to move biomedical research forward, including funding PhD studentships and co-leading DecodeME, the world’s largest M.E. DNA study.

About Solve M.E.

Solve M.E. is a non-profit disease organization that works to accelerate the discovery of safe and effective treatments, strives for an aggressive expansion of funding for research that will lead to a cure, and seeks to engage the entire M.E. community in research, advocacy, and patient support. Solve M.E. is the foundational M.E. organization, steadily broadening strategic, collaborative relationships with patients, researchers, government officials and other M.E. organizations across the globe.

The You + ME Registry, a Solve M.E. initiative, is an online clinical study of individuals committed to identifying a cure for myalgic encephalomyelitis (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS), Long COVID and other post-viral illnesses. The community is made up of people with ME/CFS, people with long-term symptoms of COVID-19 and control volunteers collectively providing the research community with critical insight into the lived experience and genetics of ME/CFS, Long COVID and post-viral illnesses.