Announcing #MEAction’s Blue Ribbon Fellow: Investigating the Role of Folate in ME

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The #MEAction Blue Ribbon Fellowship is excited to announce that medical student, Christopher Larrimore of Nova Southeastern University, has been selected as one of our fall fellows to support his continued research into myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). 

The #MEAction Blue Ribbon Fellowship, now under the stewardship of #MEAction, supports the work of medical students to undertake ME research with the goal to inspire new scientists and clinicians to enter the field of ME research. We plan to support the work of 2-3 fellows this fall. More exciting announcements to come!

The Blue Ribbon Fellowship is being presented to a fourth year osteopathic medical student at the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-KPCOM) to encourage students to do research in ME. It is awarded to students dedicating their research elective to researching and advancing knowledge about ME. The goal is that these students will contribute to the understanding of ME during their fellowship by educating other clinicians and students when presenting their research findings in posters and submitting their articles about ME for publication in the medical literature.

Now in his final year of medical school at NSU-KPCOM, Christopher is collating his data from his research project investigating the role of 5-MTHF (active folate or methylfolate or Vitamin B9) in people with ME. Methylation enables the cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive, energy production and detoxification biochemical systems to function in the body. Methylation is the biochemical mechanism that allows systems to activate or switch on various biochemical pathways. Simply put, if enough 5-MTHF is present, the methylation cycle will work efficiently and the biochemical pathways will run efficiently. If the genetic variant or gene mutation for 5-MTHFR is present in patients, the ability to activate the body’s biochemical systems is reduced.  This would possibly result in symptoms such a fatigue.

Using a genetic database developed by Dr. Nancy Klimas’s team at the NSU Institute of Neuro-Immune Medicine, persons with a MTHFR gene mutation were recruited for a 3-month, proof-of-concept study investigating the role of folate in ME. This was a small double-blinded study that measured both serum biomarkers expression and self-reported symptoms. Study subjects were located throughout the country and were asked to take either daily methylfolate or placebo. Because disruption in the MTHFR gene would presumably reduce the much-needed metabolism of dietary folate, persons with this gene mutation would be expected to display symptomatology that very well may partially explain the clinical presentation seen with ME patients.  The study results are expected to be published in the near future.

Christopher was born and raised in the countryside of Maryland where he developed a love for nature. After completing high school, he enlisted in the US Coast Guard and completed four years of service.  Following his honorable discharge, he earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a Master in Science from Johns Hopkins University. He was awarded a two-year research fellowship by the Johns Hopkins University where he investigated blood vessel growth in response to tumor formation. After matriculation into medical school, he was awarded a one-year research fellowship at NSU-KPCOM that allowed him to pursue his interest in ME research.

The Blue Ribbon Fellowship was started by #MEAction board member, Ryan Prior, and is continuing on under the stewardship of #MEAction. Welcome, Christopher, into the #MEAction community! 

Bateman Horne center is seeking applicants for the #MEAction Blue Ribbon Fellowship. We invite 4th-year medical students, med-peds, internal medicine and family practice residents to apply. The dates of the fellowship will be a period between September 15 and Nov 15, 2019 to be negotiated. Read more.


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