Following a Report to the Chief Medical Officer by a Working Group including Action for M.E., the Department of Health wrote to the Medical Research Council (MRC) with a brief "to develop a broad strategy for advancing biomedical and health services research on CFS/M.E."
The strategy was developed by an Independent Advisory Group which confirmed that CFS/M.E. is a real illness and that research is urgently needed into all its aspects.
The MRC announced two initiatives: a scientific meeting to advance epidemiological research and a highlight notice to the research community, to encourage high quality research proposals to address key issues identified by the Research Advisory Group.
Since 2004 the MRC has co-funded two large-scale trials, known as PACE and FINE.
In 2008, following a joint workshop organised by the MRC and Action for M.E., the MRC set up an Expert Group to encourage new high-quality research into the illness. The Group was chaired by Professor Stephen Holgate (pictured right), Chair, MRC Population and Systems Medicine Board. It brings together leading researchers in CFS/M.E. and associated fields and representatives from the charity sector, including Action for M.E.
In June 2010, the Group held a research prioritisation meeting which concluded that, "Cross-disciplinary research that explores the central biological questions of relevance to CFS/M.E. should be actively encouraged," listing areas of particular interest.
In 2011 the MRC announced £1.5m for new research into the mechanisms of CFS/M.E. which focus on autonomic dysfunction, cognitive symptoms, fatigue, immune dysregulation (eg. through viral infection), pain, sleep disorders.
In December 2011 it was announced that the MRC would be providing a total of £1.6m for new biomedical research. Five studies were selected to receive this funding.
Action for M.E. welcomed the MRC's cross-board highlight notice in July 2012, inviting the submission of high-quality proposals in priority areas within M.E./CFS research.
As of 2013, the CFS/M.E. Expert Group has been disbanded. However, the MRC is still highlighting M.E. research as a priority, and supports the UK CFS/M.E. Research Collaborative.