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Trans-Atlantic research fellowship announced

May 12, 2021

Action for M.E. and US charity Solve ME are excited to share that Profs Chris Ponting and Liz Worthey will work with postdoctoral fellows as part of our recently announced trans-Atlantic partnership.

This two-year, jointly funded, £120,000 fellowship is designed to prepare researchers early in their career to excel in studies focusing on applying computational biology, biostatistics, quantitative genetic and data science to understanding the molecular basis of M.E. Information on applying for the fellowship will be shared in coming weeks.

“The fellowship is designed to maximise development opportunities for the successful candidate," says Sonya Chowdhury, Chief Executive, Action for M.E. "It offers a stepping-stone for researchers from PhD level into a career in the M.E./CFS field, supported by world class scientists with whom they can nurture their skills, knowledge and experience.”

Prof Ponting co-leads DecodeME, the largest ever M.E./CFS genetic study, which is recruiting 25,000 participants. The study aims to aid development of diagnostic tests and targeted treatments by pinpointing differences in the genetic material (DNA) that may affect risk of developing M.E./CFS and reveal underlying causes of the condition. Genome-wide studies have helped uncover causes of other complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.

“I am delighted to join forces with Liz Worthey to begin training the next generation of M.E./CFS big data researchers," says Prof Ponting. "Together we will identify DNA differences that increase someone’s risk of M.E./CFS. We’re very grateful to Solve ME and Action for M.E. for catalysing this research opportunity."

Prof Worthey’s M.E./CFS research includes a whole genome sequencing project, in collaboration with Dr Camille Birch and Dr Jarred Younger, supported by a Solve ME Ramsay Award on whether M.E./CFS is the result of an intrinsic genetic defect identifiable based on whole genome or RNA sequencing. The research focuses on identifying rare molecular variation in pathways that leads to or impacts the course of the illness.

“This fellowship will strengthen our ability to bring cutting-edge computational approaches to identify the molecular underpinnings of M.E./CFS disease risk,” said Prof Worthey. “It will also reinforce crucial international scientific collaborations towards that critical goal.”

Prof Ponting is Chair of Medical Bioinformatics at the University of Edinburgh, group leader in the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit and Vice Chair of the UK CFS/M.E. Research Collaborative. He has a PhD in biophysics from the University of Oxford.

Prof Worthey is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Director of the Center for Computational Genomics and Data Sciences, and Associate Director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has a PhD in genetics from Imperial College, London.

More about Solve ME

Solve ME is a non-profit disease organisation that works to accelerate the discovery of safe and effective treatments, strives for an aggressive expansion of funding for research that will lead to a cure, and seeks to engage the entire M.E. community in research, advocacy, and patient support. Solve ME is the foundational M.E. organisation, steadily broadening strategic, collaborative relationships with patients, researchers, government officials and other M.E. organizations across the globe.

The You + ME Registry, a Solve ME initiative, is an online clinical study of individuals committed to identifying a cure for M.E., Long Covid and other post-viral illnesses. The community is made up of people with M.E./CFS, people with long-term symptoms of Covid-19 and control volunteers collectively providing the research community with critical insight into the lived experience and genetics of post-viral illnesses.