CAA's 6 research grant recipients - impressive program IMHO

Dolphin

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I was just reading the CFIDSlink from the CAA http://www.cfids.org and was impressed by the CAA 6 research grant recipients.

I'm not sure if I missed it before or if it is new information but I liked the sound of this with regard to Dr. Sanjay Shukla. He thinks: "Shukla hypothesizes that people with CFS do not have the right kind and balance of microbes and that exertion causes the microbes to leak across the intestine causing inflammation and metabolic disturbance." and are going to do exercise tests to investigate. (Prof de Meirleir and others have found evidence that microbes could be involved so it's unlikely to be a dead end).

I always like exercise studies (as long as I don't have to take part!) as I think they get to the heart of the illness - I think a lot of the abnormalities in the condition have to be provoked (they might not show up if somebody is well-rested).

And exercise abnormalities are also great from an activist point of view in pointing out that exercise is risky for us and we want to be offered more than programs that tell us to exercise more, which is what has taken over in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands and to a certain extent is unfortunately seen as "evidence-based medicine".

They are also funding the Lights exercise study so (at least) two out of the 6 are looking at exercise!

I liked to read the bit about Dr. Gordon Broderick:
"When he is not in his laboratory, Broderick teaches medical students about computational biology and uses examples of CFS in many of his lectures. Broderick recruited five medical students to conduct research in his group with the objective of raising awareness of CFS and CFS research among tomorrows clinicians. In addition to getting exposure in the media, the medical students publish their work in the peer-reviewed literature."
So there is "double-value" for the money in a way.

I was also impressed by Dr. Vernon's response to the latest XMRV paper. It shows the value of having a proper scientist like her employed.
 

Anika

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Tom, I also like the recipients, individually and for the range they represent. Given the limits of funding, I think CAA came up with an impressive group. I think some / most are fairly new in the CFS research area. It's step one to attract new researchers with this type of funding, but our greater challenge in the coming years is to keep researchers engaged, by expanding funding.

When I first read about the grants, I remember thinking, that Dr. Vernon had probably been itching to see a really well-organized research program, and as a researcher she knew what needed to be done to get the most bang for the research buck. For example, the way they built in collaboration, regular reports, etc.
 

jspotila

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Association Research Program

The Association's latest round of grants were selected in a competitive process, and Dr. Vernon collaborated with the Board to identify what we thought was most important and most strategic. We wanted to fill gaps in the knowledge base, to bring in NEW researchers, and to focus on proposals that seemed most like to produce a meaningful result. Each grant was capped at $100,000 which is very small for medical research, so we knew that we would be funding some pilot efforts.

The Association's 2008 Request for Applications included the following language (emphasis added):
Nature of the Research Opportunity
With more than 3,500 peer-reviewed biomedical publications since 1987 and $187 million spent by the U.S. government on CFS research since 1990, there is a tremendous body of evidence on which to base current funding priorities for CFS. To identify funding gaps and high-priority research directions, the CFIDS Association of America conducted an examination of the peer-reviewed literature, reviewed documents produced by expert panels convened by U.S. government agencies and performed an informal inventory of research being supported worldwide. This examination led to the issue of this RFA soliciting proposals aimed at discovering biomarkers and advancing methods for early detection, objective diagnosis and effective treatment of CFS. Knowledge acquired from studies funded under this RFA will be used to augment the evidence base for clinical practice and health policy (i.e., insurance reimbursement, documentation of vocational disability, etc.). This RFA is the first in a series of requests to be issued under an expanded research program launched by the CFIDS Association of America in November 2007. The timing of and priorities for future RFAs will depend on evolving scientific opportunities and budgetary factors.

Research Goals and Objectives
The objective of this RFA is to solicit proposals for scientifically sound, original and innovative research that will advance the discovery of biomarkers and methods for early detection, objective diagnosis and effective treatment of CFS. Topics of specific interest include, but are not limited to, proposals for hypotheses that may lead to identification of:
Surveillance and screening markers and/or strategies for detecting CFS before symptoms present, when symptoms first present (at acute onset, to distinguish CFS from other conditions) or at any other stage in the natural history of the illness.
Known and novel infectious triggers for CFS, including in vitro and animal model systems and computer simulations of infection and/or immune response coupled with laboratory data that will yield markers for biological conditions that result in the individuals inability to recover from the illness arising from an acute infection.
Laboratory, clinical, imaging or genomic (gene expression profiling, multigene test panels, etc.) markers that can be used to objectively diagnose CFS.
Markers and/or strategies for objective identification of CFS subtypes that will advance diagnosis and therapy.
Markers, surrogate endpoints or clinical endpoints that reproducibly and reliably quantify and predict the clinical effects of specific treatments.
Effective therapeutic approaches to symptom management or underlying pathophysiology, including exploration of existing, orphan or novel drug families.
Markers and/or strategies to predict CFS vulnerability and disease risk.
Proposals that leverage existing resources and infrastructures for sample collection and data management/analysis are particularly encouraged. Cooperative research mini-networks that link experienced CFS researchers and clinicians to investigators in other areas relevant to CFS are highly encouraged, as well. Applicants are encouraged to focus hypotheses on body systems known to be important in the biology of CFS including the hypothalamic-pituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis, immune system and autonomic nervous system. Explorations of novel subtypes of CFS are welcomed. For example, subtypes characterized by results of the FDA- approved pharmacogenomic test for drug metabolism (AmpliChip Cytochrome P450) have the potential to enhance treatment decision-making with respect to certain drugs frequently prescribed for CFS. Proposals that demonstrate strong potential to augment the evidence base for clinical practice and health policy (i.e., insurance reimbursement, documentation of vocational disability, etc.) will be given additional weight.
 

shiso

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I'm impressed by the program too, especially given the modest size of the CAA's available funds - I get the impression of getting maximum bang for the buck...

Imagine what could get done if only there was a lot, lot more funding available (like from the federal government, for example) for researchers and research projects like these!
 

Dolphin

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I'm impressed by the program too, especially given the modest size of the CAA's available funds - I get the impression of getting maximum bang for the buck...

Imagine what could get done if only there was a lot, lot more funding available (like from the federal government, for example) for researchers and research projects like these!
Fingers crossed that some of these will go on to get federal funding. That's often how science research/medical research works - you collect some evidence that your angle has something to it and they give you more money to investigate it further.
 

jspotila

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Fingers crossed that some of these will go on to get federal funding. That's often how science research/medical research works - you collect some evidence that your angle has something to it and they give you more money to investigate it further.
Association funded investigators have a higher than average track record of securing funding from NIH. That's one of the factors driving our program - giving someone enough pilot funding to get the data they need to get a bigger grant from NIH. It's about leveraging our dollars into bigger federal dollars.