CFIDS Association president and CEO
K. Kimberly McCleary
From the Desk of K. Kimberly McCleary
American Heritage Dictionary –
v. con•verged, con•verg•ing, con•verg•es
To tend toward or approach an intersecting point: lines that converge.
- To come together from different directions; meet: The avenues converge at a central square.
2. To tend toward or achieve union or a common conclusion or result: In time, our views and our efforts converged.
3. Mathematics To approach a limit.
Convergence was the unofficial theme of the research and clinical conference held three weeks ago in Ft. Lauderdale by the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (IACFS), led by research and clinical professionals and hosted by patient organization PANDORA. There was a palpable spirit of collaboration; solid evidence of common discoveries among research groups from different centers, countries and disciplines; and a sharpening focus on the priorities and promise for future investigations.
As someone who has attended all seven of the past biennial conferences, that atmosphere felt good. Actually, it felt great!
Research findings presented on brain function, biochemical abnormalities, possible viral triggers and molecular markers were among the topical highlights of the three days. (A patient conference added two more thought-provoking days to the schedule.) With clinicians and researchers learning together for the entire program, organizers built an agenda that was mindful of translating bench science into practical application—also benefiting the many patients, caregivers and advocates in attendance.
More than ever, the disciplines represented at this meeting—especially from the speaker’s podium—extended beyond those we’re used to seeing at this conference. Experts in immunology, virology, endocrinology and psychiatry were there, but so were those who specialize in neurology, mathematics, computer science and law. The multidisciplinary approach taken by most of the groups who made oral presentations was impressive, and necessary in studying a condition that affects every major body system.
So, given the diversity of the audience, the feeling of convergence was even more powerful. The replication of findings across patient groups and study designs is crucial, but having it occur by investigators from different perspectives, and often different cultures, gives these common conclusions even more validity.
The IACFS is reaching out to engage more international investigators and benefiting from the new perspectives they bring. In fact, the location being considered for the next IACFS conference is one outside the United States. They’ve also proposed changing the name of the organization to the IACFS/ME, a possibility now being voted on by its professional membership. These steps parallel the growth and maturation of the scientific effort. They also reflect the global impact that CFS has and the urgent worldwide need for answers to basic questions that still evade us.
The CFIDS Association is proud to have been one of the sponsors of this conference and to have had several of the research groups we’ve funded present new findings there. Our coverage of the conference began with a special issue of CFIDSLink e-mailed to you on January 23 and continues in this month’s issue. It further expands in the winter 2007 issue of the CFIDS Chronicle, due out in the next few weeks, which covers, science and research in nearly every feature article.
President & CEO
The CFIDS Association of America