Simon McGrath provides a patient-friendly version of a peer-reviewed paper which he co-authored, and which highlights some of the most promising biomedical research on ME/CFS.

Phoenix rising blog post, 12 May 2016: Professor & patients’ paper on the solvable biological challenge of ME/CFS: reader-friendly version

biomedicalRecently, Professor Jonathan Edwards, with patients and carers as co-authors (including me), published a peer-reviewed editorial in the medical journal Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior. The article became their most-viewed paper within a few days.

The editorial highlights some of the most promising biomedical research on ME/CFS, discusses possible broad models to understand the illness, and suggests practical steps to speed up progress.

Our paper is a direct call to the wider biomedical research community to actively target ME/CFS, but we hope that patients will also find the paper useful as a summary of current theories about what causes the illness, and some of the most promising research leads right now.

However, some of the language of the paper is inevitably quite technical, so below I provide a more patient-friendly version of the paper that has been agreed upon by the authors. It omits some of the most technical bits and explains some important concepts where helpful.


ME/CFS is similar to multiple sclerosis, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis in terms of the proportion of people affected (about 0.2% to 1%), long-term disability, and quality of life. However, the recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Institute of Medicine reports show that biomedical research and funding have been pitifully limited.

We hope that the NIH’s increased focus on ME/CFS, announced by Director Francis Collins, will attract many more researchers and more resources, but even with the scant funding so far, ME/CFS researchers have already generated promising leads.

In our paper, we suggest the key elements of a coordinated research programme and we call on the wider biomedical research community to focus on this condition.

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