Suzanne Vernon, PhD
Take Five with Suzanne D. Vernon, PhD
April 12, 2011
Our scientific director responds to five questions that followed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) State of the Knowledge Workshop. Dr. Vernon’s summary slides delivered at the end of the conference can be viewed here.
At the end of the session on infectious agents, you asked Dr. John Coffin (Tufts University) about what he thought should come next in the study of XMRV. He answered that it was time to leave XMRV behind. Did you two plan this exchange and did you anticipate his answer?
Dr. Coffin is among the most respected retrovirologists in the world. His presence at the meeting demonstrates how much attention XMRV has brought to the field of CFS research by top experts in science. We did not plan or prepare in any way for the exchange that occurred at the end of the session. The meeting organizers specifically asked those seated around the table to challenge one another and debate the issues at hand. XMRV is certainly a “hot topic” within the CFS community and in the larger field of virology and I was simply exploring one expert’s opinion about what he thought should come next.
Why didn’t you ask Dr. Judy Mikovits (Whittemore Peterson Institute) the same question?
As I recall, we were already behind schedule and the moderators were moving on to the next topic in a very tightly packed agenda. It is also well established from Dr. Mikovits’ presentation at this meeting and in other recent presentations that the WPI will pursue its XMRV-focused studies and continue participating in the blood safety study and the multi-center study being coordinated by Ian Lipkin of Columbia University.
Is the NIH helping to fund the Association’s SolveCFS BioBank?
No, the Association launched the SolveCFS BioBank with the help of gifts from individuals, all of whom are affected directly by CFS. We’re grateful for their support to build this important repository of clinical information and samples voluntarily provided by well-characterized CFS patients and healthy controls who share our commitment to advancing the understanding of CFS.
In the summary you provided at the conclusion of the NIH workshop, you described the need for leadership for interdisciplinary research on CFS. Who did you have in mind to do this?
The Association is transforming to leverage and lead the kind of collaborative research that can be fostered by talent and technology from diverse disciplines. But the federal agencies, particularly the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, must engage more deeply in supporting this kind of research and directing their resources – human and financial – to the expanded study of nature of CFS at the molecular, cellular and clinical levels. It was clear to many of us who attended the State of the Knowledge Workshop that collaboration and leadership are required in equal measure to advance diagnostics, treatments and patient care. This is the Association’s core strategy to make CFS widely understood, diagnosable, curable and preventable.
What do you think was the most important outcome of the State of the Knowledge Workshop?
Having worked on CFS for 13 years, it feels to me like there is tremendous synergy around the need to be more collaborative across institutions, disciplines and settings (basic research, applied research and clinical research) to develop a shared set of tools that will accelerate the pace of discovery. The involvement of so many top people from the NIH at the meeting (especially under the circumstances of a near government shut-down) and Dr. Wanda Jones’ leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services make this a very hopeful and promising time.
For more information about XMRV, visit our Overview and Resources pages.
For answers to more frequently asked questions about the Association, please visit our FAQs.
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