NIH Extends Funding for ME/CFS Research Centers

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has taken steps to fix a “funding gap” in the timing of research awards for the ME/CFS Collaborative Research Centers (CRC) and the Data Management and Coordinating Center (DMCC). The currently-funded research centers which apply, and are approved, for another 5-year term will no longer face a 7-month funding gap between research awards.

In February, #MEAction criticized NIH for issuing the latest ME/CFS CRC funding announcement for:

  1. not increasing funding so that the number of CRCs could be expanded, and 
  2. leaving a gap in funding between the end of the current awards (August 2022) and the start of any new awards (April 2023).

To be sure, the failure of NIH leadership to investment in the number and size of research centers needed to accelerate ME/CFS research is a serious missed opportunity; but we are also glad to see the administrative efforts of NIH program staff to support the current research centers through the “gap” period using a combination of grant extensions and supplements so that researchers can complete their studies, perform data analysis and prepare manuscripts for publication. 

Columbia University’s ME/CFS CRC received a 1-year extension (August 31, 2023) to their current award with an additional $658,746 in total costs funding. According to Prof. Ian Lipkin the project’s principal investigator:

“The bridge funding is important to completing our research commitments to the community and to the NIH. It will also allow us to retain the focus of the team on ME/CFS so that in the event we are successful in our renewal application, we will be able to maintain momentum rather than first need to rebuild the team. We have exciting new findings in immunology, microbiology, and genetics that offer the prospects of building animal models for disease and designing clinical trials. We are eager to continue our work and to partner with #MEAction in bringing insights and solutions that will mitigate disability in ME/CFS.”

Below are the funding extensions and supplements that NIH has implemented for the ME/CFS research centers:

Awardee Center Type Funding Mechanism Additional Funding Extended Until Note
Columbia CRC For-cost extension $658,746 08/31/23 Extension date not yet shown in NIH RePORTER
Cornell CRC No cost extension N/A 08/31/23 Using funds previously awarded
JAX Labs CRC No cost extension N/A 08/31/23 Using funds previously awarded
JAX Labs CRC Administrative Supplement $90,800 08/31/23 Funding for additional work
RTI DMCC No cost extension N/A 06/30/23 Using funds previously awarded
RTI DMCC Administrative Supplement $99,999 03/31/23 Funding for additional work

Note: This information is publicly available in NIH RePORTER. The above links to individual funding mechanisms include more information, including an abstract of the work and related research publications.

The ME/CFS Collaborative Research Center (CRC) program was first launched by NIH in 2017. The new 5-year CRC funding opportunity and DMCC funding opportunity had to be applied for/resubmitted by this past May. CRC and DMCC applications will be reviewed in November 2022 and the funding plan will be presented at the NINDS Advisory Council on February 1-2, 2023.

The current CRCs are working with the DMCC to upload their data into mapMECFS so it will be accessible to other researchers once the publications have been released.

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