#IIMEC15: A 2020 2021 VISION for ME



The ME Conference Week events for 2020 were dirupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and necessitated moving our planned conferences toMay 2021. So much of what was planed for 2020 has been moved to 2021.
Invest in ME Research (IIMER) is an independent UK charity facilitating and funding a strategy of high-quality biomedical research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME or ME/CFS) and promoting better education about ME.

The charity is run by volunteers - patients or parents of children with ME. No salaries, no careerists, no government funding, not controlled by outside influences - but wonderful supporters.

In 2021 we will be holding our fifteenth annual international ME conference – IIMEC15 – and our tenth annual international Biomedical Research into ME Colloquium. After fifteen years it may be so that the charity is often only recognised for these events – with little awareness of what else the charity is doing, on a daily and weekly basis, and has done and continues to do. But not so.

TEN Colloquiums, FIFTEEEN Conferences

We are currently releasing the videos from the past conferences to mark the fifteenth anniversary of our first conference and these will begin to be available on our web site over the coming months (click here).
It is quite interesting to listen to the comments made fifteen years ago by some presenters and compare to the situation we have today - with research and education about ME.
One could be forgiven for thinking that nothing has changed.

Yet the charity has been attempting to move things forward over the years, as we see the themes of the last fourteen conferences -

A Hundred Acorns...........

" ....... a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze."

Though the efforts and achievements of the charity and supporters may have gone by, unnoticed by many, after fifteen years of constant work the acorns have built up enough that we need to consider the next phases.

So, at this time of year when opening registration for the International ME Conference Week events that are now firmly fixed into the calendar, and as our fifteenth conference is held, maybe we should just mention a few of the things the charity and its supporters are achieving and what we need to do to maintain this progress.


Apart from the day-to-day supporting of patients and families dealing with the effects of ME in various ways and advocating on behalf of ME patients we have made real progress in setting up key building blocks that have created sustainable and permanent change in how ME is researched and treated.

IiMER is finding, funding and facilitating biomedical research into ME in a variety of ways and is focused on -

  • creating solid foundations for a research programme on ME
  • solving scientific questions relating to ME
  • finding treatments that are based on research evidence
  • raising standards on all levels of patient care
  • facilitating European and international collaboration

Our current projects include the following -

The charity's proposal for a Centre of Excellence for ME is possible to achieve and it has set a target which can be reached if enough support is obtained.

Our plans to develop a Centre of Excellence for ME have captured the imagination and is clearly seen as the way ahead - and good progress on this foundation has been made, although with more resources the charity could expedite this for the benefit of all patients.
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A clinical trial which will raise the profile of ME and achieve scientific objectives

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A new and visionary scheme to address the issue of expertise amongst GPs. This scheme aims to educate GPs and create champions in clinical care for people with ME – that will continue as a regular feature of the Centre of Excellence.

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PhD students introduced to research (a strategy of 3 per year for 5 years) as part of the five year plan to implement the Centre
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A scheme for medical students to be involved in research into ME - at the Centre which allows them to have a sound knowledge of ME that will influence their peers and take that forward in their careers.
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High-quality biomedical research from top researchers in the leading European research park , complete with university and university hospital

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A European ME Research Group forming with collaboration and working together as themes - themes that have been the essence for our Colloquiums - with real international cooperation forming which can only lead to a better future for patients than would otherwise be the case.

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A European ME Clinicians Group was established and is working - with a new meeting set for the autumn - emecc.org

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European research collaboration in the European ME Alliance (EMEA) with discussions taking place between UK and Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Spain and Holland.
Joint studentships and exchanges being funded by IiMER and our partners.

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International Biomedical Research Colloquiums bringing researchers together. The research Colloquiums now attract researchers from around the world to a meeting where they are free to discuss, share ideas and collaborate.

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International ME Conferences that allow researchers, clinicians, patient groups and carers to interact and network.

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The establishment of the Thinking the Future for ME - Young/ECR Researcher network and conference began as an idea in 2018 and continued in 2019 - both in London and in Washington. The NIH worked with IiMER to facilitate this international network and even provided funding for twenty young US researchers to come to London for TtF2019.

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For 2021 IiMER are initiating an interesting new idea in creating an international clinicians meeting in London with the newly formed European ME CLinicians Council (EMECC) joining with the US Clinicians Council formed by Mary Dimmock and Dr Lucinda Bateman. This will bring together the two groups to facilitate a poweerful instrument for change.

The charity has not forgotten the need for advocacy and regularly comments and acts on issues affecting ME.
In the recent UK parliamentary debate on ME, Invest in ME Research produced a document which summarised the status of ME. It also laid out a bold vision for research - proposing that £20 million be allocated every year for five years to kick-start biomedical research and support the foundations that this small charity has laid.
Other topics -

The following documents are recent statements from the charity on major issues.

Debate January 2019

Some of the issues relating to the UK parliamentary debate on 24th January 2019 with also included a one page summary of recommendations

Status of ME 2018

A status of ME document produced by the charity for the parliamentary meeting in 2018 that led up to the 2019 parliamentary debate in UK

NICE Commentary

Comments on NICE guidelines reviews and previous correspondence between the charity and directors of NICE guidelines development

An interesting summary of the work of the charity and supporters was provided by the amazing Let's Do It For ME (LDIFME) team in this article - click here

To treat and cure ME we need the infrastructure as well as funding. Sparse resources exist so cross-European projects are necessary. Europe has the resources to build this capacity and resources.

Progress will not come from soundbites in the media or from letters to parliament or assemblies. We have to create a foundation for sustainable research and we need to recognise that we are forced to start this ourselves in the absence of official support. This is what IiMER and our supporters have done.

After all these years and the great efforts from our supporters we feel we can now focus efforts on sustaining the progress made.

We invite all to look at the above – what is and has been developed and initiated by the charity and our supporters – and help us build on these elements which will facilitate rapid progress in improving research and treatment of ME.

In 2020 IiMER will be organising the largest biomedical research into ME Colloquium in the world. We will organise Europe’s largest international ME conference open to the public - our fifteenth international ME conference that regularly brings together people from twenty different countries from around the world.
We will organise our third (and the fourth in all) Thinking the Future – Young Investigators International Conference.

And in 2020 we will hopefully bring together a new International ME Clinicians Conference with the newly formed EMECC involved with the US clinicians.

Donating money is just a small part of philanthropy. Philanthropy is about 'giving' - not just in monetary terms but also in non-monetary aspects, like time, ideas, raising awareness of what the charity is trying to do, or being a volunteer. We are justifiably proud of what our supporters have achieved.

Our supporters deserve recognition for all their support and efforts to bring change to the landscape of ME research and perception.

Due to imaginative and positive support such as the Let’s Do It for ME campaign and thanks to dedicated supporters the charity prepares for 2020 and beyond with good foundations for progress based on the efforts of patients, carers and their families who have supported us since 2005.

Welcome to London - welcome to #IIMEC15.

Kathleen McCall

Chairman Invest in ME Research

2020 will see our annual international public conference, our annual international researchers' Colloquium and our annual young investigators conference that has been established to build a network of young and early career researchers.
We now supplement that with an international clinicians meeting.

In order to bring the best education and research to London each year we welcome all support for these events as there are significant costs involved in achieving this. Click here for ways to help - fund.shtml

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Last Update September 2020