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A Visit to the Institute of Neuro-Immune Medicine

On October 26, 2016, I was lucky enough to attend a conference held at Nova Southeastern University hosted by one of the doctors that treats me, Dr. Nancy Klimas.  

The conference was open to the public and in addition to being a patient of The Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine and Dr. Klimas, HopingandCoping.com, was able to sponsor the event by donating to the fundraising raffle.

The panelists were medical doctors and Ph.D's, from around the globe.  The information was better suited for the medical community as opposed to a lay person, but none the less, I enjoyed listening.  The topics were: Biomarkers and Subgroups, Modeling, Do Gene Profiles Influence Treatment?, and Promoting Collaboration.  

The day long conference was followed by a wine and cheese fundraiser at the new facility for The Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine.  This new building and home to the research being done by Dr. Klimas and her team was extremely impressive.  It is the most state of the art medical/research facility I have had the honor of seeing.  The lab portion of the facility is very large with rows and rows of research space along with isolated areas for viral research, cold storage and general patient sample storage.  I learned of a new team member, Dr. Lubov Nathanson, PhD., who is a Molecular Biologist and Biochemist with extensive experience is cellular processes.  By joining the team, Dr. Klimas explained that the lab panels she can now run on patients will include many more assays.  The technology required to produce the lab results and run these tests are cutting edge and enable the team to provide more information for patients then ever before.  

In addition to the new facility clinic and lab, there is plenty of space for open collaboration which was a big part of the conference agenda and the formation of The Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine.  One of the most interesting conversations I had during the event was with Travis Craddock, Ph.D.  He is an assistant professor of Psychology, Computer Science and Medicine applying systems biology and biophysics methods towards the purpose of identifying novel treatments for complex chronic illnesses involving neuroinflammation.  His team is housed in a wonderful room similar to something you could picture at Google.  There are only a few offices in this very large room, which are completely structured out of glass.  The rest of the room is open for collaboration and judging by the loads of equations written on the walls throughout the room, there is quite a bit of collaboration taking place.   The group is called Computational Biologists.  Dr. Craddock explained what they do as running scenarios of treatment possibilities against the surmounting patient data that is collected at The Institute to try and find treatment options.  

It was so exciting to see the amount of resources being put towards finding diagnostic and treatment options for these Neuro-Inflammatory Conditions.  Often times as a patient, I feel like I am destined to be stuck as I am without hope for improvement.  I left this evening feeling excited and with renewed hope that there are people who care if people like me get better.  

November 15, 2016, written as a first person account by Gwen Dernis


Nancy Klimas, MD, has more than 30 years of professional experience and has achieved international recognition for her research and clinical efforts in multi-symptom disorders, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Gulf War Illness (GWI), Fibromyalgia, and other Neuro Immune Disorders. She is immediate past president of the International Association for CFS and ME (IACFS/ME), a professional organization of clinicians and investigators, and is also a member of the VA Research Advisory Committee for GWI, the NIH P2P CFS Committee, and the Institute of Medicine ME/CFS Review Panel. Dr. Klimas has advised three Secretaries of Health and Human Services, including Kathleen Sabelius, during her repeated service on the Health and Human Services CFS Advisory Committee. Dr. Klimas has been featured on Good Morning America, in USA Today and the New York Times.

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