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"Catalysts" are transforming research

Monday 2 January 2012


From the CFIDS Association of America:


THECatalystFUNDThe Association's Catalysts Are Transforming Research

In the summer-fall 2011 issue of SolveCFS, we introduced THECatalystFUND, a fund that will speed discovery and transform the way that CFS research is conducted. With the name of the fund, we hoped to illustrate the important role that supporters can play. In science, catalysts are substances that change the rate of chemical reactions. “Positive” catalysts speed a particular reaction.

Within days of sharing the news about the creation of THECatalystFUND with just a few of our most enthusiastic supporters, a rapid reaction was generated and gifts totaling $192,000 were provided to launch the Fund by the time theSolveCFS issue went to press. Our goal is to reach $2 million by year-end to fuel the next phase of our research program.

Gifts of every size are needed to help reach the $2 million goal. Two donor families (who wish to remain anonymous) pledged up to $75,000 to match gifts (up to $10,000 each) as a means of encouraging fellow supporters to be as generous as possible. Catalysts who make gifts or pledges at the $10,000 level or more receive special recognition and benefits.

All donors to THECatalystFUND will be provided exclusive updates from Association leaders, members of the Association’s Scientific Advisory Board and funded investigators. Web-based programs offered only to Catalysts will help keep donors personally informed about the progress being made across the research field. In addition, Catalysts will receive special recognition in Association publications and events. (Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous is welcome to do so.)

Throughout the month of December we’ll provide you with updates on the progress toward our $2 million goal and we’ll introduce you to Catalysts who were inspired to support the Fund’s growth. We're delighted that these individuals have allowed us to share their stories:

Anonymous, of Chicago, Il, has a daughter with a “classic” case of CFS: 20 years ago, at age 17, she got mono from which she never recovered. Looking back, though, she’d had symptoms for years, but no one knew what was going on until they became full-blown with the mono. She joined the Association “way back when” for the information it offered about CFS, and increased her involvement when the organization helped to recover the CFS research funds. Meet Anonymous




Mike Atherton of Alexandria, Va., his wife Christine and parents Sharon and Harper, have made supporting The Catalyst Fund a family affair. Christine’s illness began suddenly in 1995, but she was able to keep up a modest level of activity until 2008 when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Treatment followed and she saw some improvement, but then, this spring, her CFS got much worse. The family rallies around Christine and the Association’s “broad-spectrum” approach to research. Meet Mike

Mike Atherton



Jeffrey Blum, M.D., of Cornelius, N.C., thought he had “the Blum virus” when he got sick during his last month of medical school. That was 40 years ago. He’s been fortunate to continue his profession but still struggles with post-exertional relapse. “Each time you give, you increase the return on investment. The addition of Dr. Vernon, a professional who’s looking at the research projects and coordinating them – that’s what’s fabulous. That’s what impressed me.” Meet Jeff

Jeff Blum



Hayden Boyd of Davidson, NC, is motivated by a father’s love. His daughter, Anne, got a bad flu two years ago and didn’t recover. “A catalyst is something that speeds up a reaction in chemistry, and it seems to me that speeding up all these folks working on CFS is a very good thing to do. I want my daughter to get well and have a good life.” Meet Hayden

Hayden Boyd



Melissa Boyer of Amarillo, TX, had it “all” in her 20s until a confusing illness hit in 1995. She wasn’t diagnosed until five years later, but then her doctor put her in touch with the Association so she could learn more and find ways to cope. “My hope is that the Catalyst Fund will contribute to the understanding of the biology of our illness and speed up the process in finding meaningful treatments and eventually a cure for CFS.” Meet Melissa

Melissa Boyer



Linda Cohen ofNew York, NY, was a regular at Studio 54 in her younger, healthier days. Twenty years ago she was diagnosed with CFS and her life took a different path. She lives alone, in survival mode. Research is her hope. The Catalyst Fund appeals to her “because it’s the only way we’re going to find out what causes CFS, what makes us feel better and what cures it." Meet Linda

Linda Cohen



Claire of San Francisco Bay Area, CA, became bedridden at age 29, stricken by debilitating fatigue, muscle pain and brain fog. “Among CFS organizations, the CFIDS Association funds the highest quality scientific research," she says, noting that she bases this decision on her own education in the biological sciences and research methods in several social sciences at a top research university. Meet Claire...




Amy Divine of Boulder, CO, has been sick since a sudden-onset flu in 1986, Divine says her life has “become much, much smaller. I was living in New York and working in television. I had to give up everything, my career, and move to Colorado,” she says. “But I did have a family and could start a couple of small nonprofit organizations. Now I’m on the board of the Association, and that’s where I’ve chosen to devote my energy.” Meet Amy

Amy Divine



Claudia Goodell of Albuquerque, N.M., slid into a gradual progression of illness following a viral onset in 1985. It was 15 years before she was finally diagnosed. She’s combined her passions for biking and the Association by founding a 24-hour endurance bike race to benefit CFS research. “It’s my opinion that solid research is the key to finding answers about this illness.”Meet Claudia

Claudia Goodell



Denise Lopez-Majano of Chester County, PA, lives in a quiet house in spite of the fact she has two teenage sons at home. Matthew and Alexander both have CFS. They’re both sensitive to noise, light and odors, so they don’t make the kind of ruckus their peers do. Denise and her family have supported the Association since 2007. She believes, “It’s one of the best investments possible!” Meet Denise and her sons

Lopez-Majano sons



Kris McMenamin of Arlington, Va., calls The Catalyst Fund “a game changer.” “Anybody facing the challenge of cross-system intervention should be looking to do what the CFIDS Association is doing.” She got involved at the request of a friend, on behalf of another friend with CFS. But she sees returns that go beyond those affected by CFS. “I’m hopeful that whatever is funded will seed benefits for other diseases too.” Meet Kris

Kris McMenamin



Anne Örtegren of Stockholm, Sweden, wants to steal her life back from CFS. “I am home-bound, barely capable of getting up to have dinner. ME/CFS has stolen everything that was my life.” Although she just gets by with two small disability allowances, she made one of the first gifts to the Catalyst Fund. “I know small gifts matter too. We need to start helping ourselves. Please join me in contributing with a small gift.” Meet Anne

Anne Örtegren



Lynn Royster of Dallas, TX, recalls how her family changed forever one day in 1986. Her son, Patrick, got the flu and never recovered. She connected with the Association and found its information to be “accurate, always thoughtful, never hysterical.” Supporting The Catalyst Fund continues her tradition of Association support. “There is so much on the horizon, so many possibilities. My son’s illness affected my life and my family’s life immeasurably. Anything we can do to help him helps our family and helps everybody else.” Meet Lynn

Lynn Royster



Dikoma Shungu, PhD, of New York City, demonstrates his commitment to CFS in the MRI laboratory he runs at the Weill Cornell School of Medicine, and by donating to The Catalyst Fund. “I have seen how debilitating this illness can be and am convinced that it is for real. The only way we can ever to hope to understand the causes of this disabling condition is through research, which cannot occur without financial support from all of us.” Meet Dikoma

Dikoma Shungu, PhD



Michael Spain of Carmel, NY, had an acute onset of CFS on March 13, 1990. He values the information provided by the Association. “The information and its gathering and distribution has been fantastic. There’s one central place that’s watching over everything.” He sees his gift to The Catalyst Fund has a responsibility. “For anybody who’s sick, or has a family member who’s sick, we should do everything we can to support this. What could be more important?” Meet Michael

Michael Spain



Amy Squires of Alexandria, VA, learned about CFS when her oldest friend got sick 17 years ago. They went from hiking together to knitting together to accommodate her friend’s energy and physical limitations. “I want to do whatever I can to be engaged in the research and progress toward a cure,” says Squires. Now she serves on the Board of Directors and supports The Catalyst Fund through monthly and special gifts. “The Association’s grant program in 2008 set the bar and demonstrated what can happen with a little money. Let’s raise big money and make big things happen!” Meet Amy

Amy Squires

Look for more Catalyst profiles here and in stories posted to Research1st and through our e-newsletter, CFIDSLink.

Thank you for your generous support and for considering this unique opportunity to help us transform CFS research.

THECatalystFUND: Click here to donate now


The above originally appeared here.



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