Chili ME Challenge: Make This Summer Red Hot for Research!

Posted 6/15/2015 3:45:56 PM

Watch Mady Hornig and Ian Lipkin take the Chili ME Challenge!

CFS, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME/CFS, is a complex illness affects between 0.5 and 2 percent of adults in the U.S. It is characterized by a severe debilitating fatigue lasting at least six months. The causes of CFS are unknown and there is no approved diagnostic test or treatment.

On July 1, renowned researchers Ian Lipkin and Mady Hornig at the Center for Infection & Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health will take the Chili ME Challenge via live webcast. CII challenges you to support this research to help unlock the mysteries of ME/CFS. Every dollar you give directly supports research.

The Chili ME Challenge harnesses social media to raise awareness and funding for important ongoing research. This grassroots campaign organized by four young women living with ME/CFS provides direct support for research by Drs. Lipkin and Hornig. Earlier this year, the Center published two high-profile papers reporting the discovery of robust evidence that ME/CFS is a biological illness, paving the way to improved diagnosis and treatment.

The funds raised will support comprehensive studies into the role of the bacteria, fungi and viruses in CFS. Research into the human microbiome is an exciting new pathway to advance understanding of the role more than a trillion microorganisms in our body play in health and in the development of disease. As one of the the world’s largest and most advanced centers in microbe discovery, identification and diagnosis, CII is optimally positioned to embark upon the challenge to determine how bacteria, fungi, viruses and toxins (and the immune response to them) contribute to ME/CFS.

Your support may show the way toward treatment strategies. With every gift, the Spice-O-Meter will climb. The more you give, the hotter it gets. Challenge your friends and family to join in on Facebook and Twitter. Simply include the tag #ChiliMEchallenge and link to this page.

Donate now and put the heat on ME/CFS!

Don't stop at giving. You, too, can eat a hot pepper and challenge others to do the same.

CII Partners with Bangladesh on Pathogen Discovery and Surveillance

Posted 4/16/2015 12:17:23 PM

April 15, 2015—The Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health entered into an agreement with the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, furthering a series of international partnerships to undertake infectious disease surveillance and discovery in Bangladesh.

At the April 14 signing ceremony, Mailman School Dean Linda P. Fried and CII director W. Ian Lipkin met with representatives from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, National Influenza Centre, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, who also signed the agreement.

“This relationship formalizes our commitment to continuing and expanding our current collaboration with the government of Bangladesh,” said Lipkin. “Through research and training programs, we will both yield scientific insights and build public health infrastructure.”

The agreement with Bangladesh follows on the heels of similar arrangements with People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and furthers CII’s efforts to create a “global immune system” for emerging infectious disease threats. In Bangladesh, CII will employ genetic methods to rapidly identify infectious agents—methods pioneered by CII.

Among the poorest countries in the world, Bangladesh is marked by chronic malnutrition, faulty water and sanitation systems, and the highest infant mortality rate in Asia. It is also among the most densely populated, and populous, countries on the planet. The emergence of zoonotic viruses in Bangladesh could augur an almost immediate threat to regional stability and world health.

 

 

From left, seated: Linda P Fried, Dean, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Professor Dr. Deen Mohd. Noorul Huq, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Roxana Quader, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Professor W. Ian Lipkin, MD Director, Center for Infection & Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; 

From left, standing:Dr. M. Mushtuq Husain, Principal Scientist Officer & Head, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR); Md. Helal Uddin, Joint Chief, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; Professor Mahmudur Rahman, PhD, Director, Institute for Epidemiology, Disease Control & Research (IEDCR and National Influenza Centre (NIC), Bangladesh, Simon Anthony, D. Phil., associate research scientist, Center for Infection & Immunity, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Dr. Ahmad Raihan Sharif, Medical Officer, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR)


Scientists Find Clues Into Cognitive Dysfunction in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Posted 3/30/2015 2:08:50 PM

Immune Markers in Cerebrospinal Fluid Provide Insights Into the Basis for Symptoms Like “Brain Fog”

 

NEW YORK (March 31, 2015)—Scientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have identified a unique pattern of immune molecules in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) that provides insights into the basis for cognitive dysfunction—frequently described by patients as “brain fog”—as well as new hope for improvements in diagnosis and treatment. 

In the study published in Molecular Psychiatry, Mady Hornig, MD, and colleagues used immunoassay testing methods to measure levels of 51 immune biomarkers called cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluid of 32 people with ME/CFS for an average of seven years, 40 with multiple sclerosis, and 19 non-diseased controls. The researchers found that levels of most cytokines, including the inflammatory immune molecule interleukin 1, were depressed in individuals with ME/CFS compared with the other two groups, matching what was seen in a blood study in patients who had the disease for more than three years. One cytokine—eotaxin—was elevated in the ME/CFS and MS groups, but not in the control group.

“We now know that the same changes to the immune system that we recently reported in the blood of people with ME/CFS with long-standing disease are also present in the central nervous system,” says Dr. Hornig, professor of Epidemiology and director of translational research at the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School. “These immune differences may contribute to symptoms in both the peripheral parts of the body and the brain, from muscle weakness to brain fog.” 

Implications for Diagnosis and Treatment

 “Diagnosis of ME/CFS is now based on clinical criteria. Our findings offer the hope of objective diagnostic tests for disease as well as the potential for therapies that correct the imbalance in cytokine levels seen in people with ME/CFS at different stages of their disease,” adds W. Ian Lipkin, MD, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity. 

There is precedent for use of human monoclonal antibodies that regulate the immune response in a wide range of disorders from rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis. However, the researchers note, additional work will be needed to assess the safety and efficacy of this approach.

 The study was supported by a grant from the Chronic Fatigue Initiative of the Hutchins Family Foundation and the Edward P. Evans Foundation.

Additional authors include Andrew F. Schultz, Meredith L. Eddy and Xiaoyu Che at the Mailman School; C. Gunnar Gottschalk and Daniel L. Peterson at Sierra Internal Medicine in Incline Village, NV; and Konstance K. Knox at Coppe Health Care Solutions in Waukesha, WI, and Simmaron Research in Incline Village, NV.

About Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health 

Founded in 1922, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP (formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs) and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit www.mailman.columbia.edu.

 

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