Dr Ian Gibson. Image: Invest in ME Research
In 2022, the Quadram Institute and UK charity Invest in ME Research announced its commitment to funding the first Postdoctoral Fellowship for research into myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME or ME/CFS).
This new position was created to continue and extend research into ME/CFS and builds on the foundations already in place for further developing the UK/European Centre of Excellence for ME/CFS research on the Norwich Research Park.
In agreement with Dr Gibson’s wife, Liz, and with Quadram Institute, the charity has decided to name this fellowship the Invest in ME Research “Ian Gibson” Fellowship in memory of scientist, politician, advocate and good friend of people with ME/CFS, Dr Ian Gibson.
Dr Ian Gibson joined UEA’s School of Biological Sciences in 1965 where he led research into cancer and taught for many years, becoming Dean of the School of Biological Sciences in 1991.
He was elected as Member of Parliament for Norwich North in 1997, later chairing the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, becoming a strong advocate for science and health.
During this time he spoke at the first international conferences organised by Invest in ME Research, becoming a trusted advisor and continued to speak at and attend these meetings in his retirement.
This first fellowship for ME/CFS recognises Dr Gibson’s great influence in supporting people with ME/CFS and in helping the charity move ahead with facilitating the research programme and centre for research into ME/CFS.
“Dr Gibson was a unique MP in that he understood the science and politics and was always interested in all kinds of views, and was consistently engaged in debates spanning diverse issues. He was a steadfast advocate for the underdog, lending his voice to those often ignored” said Invest in ME Research chairperson Kathleen McCall.
“This profound commitment to fairness and justice manifested not only in his advocacy but also in his resolute support for organisations that echoed his ethos. It is why he aligned himself with a volunteer-driven charity such as Invest in ME Research.”
“In recognising the intrinsic value of every effort, regardless of size or financial backing, he embodied the transformative power of standing alongside those tirelessly working for change, emphasising that true impact arises from the heart, not just the spotlight – something that perfectly describes our supporters.”
Ian Gibson Fellowship Detail
The fellowship is being performed by Dr Katharine Seton and continues her career in research into ME/CFS at Quadram Institute.
Dr Seton recently completed her PhD, that was funded by Invest in ME Research. and the University of East Anglia.
Details of some of Dr Seton’s planned research will include determining the contribution of the intestinal microbiome to oxidative stress in ME/CFS patients and whether this can cause alterations in immune function, accelerating premature immune ageing.
She also plans to determine the impact of microbiota replacement therapy (MRT) on intestinal and systemic oxidative stress in ME/CFS patients.
This will be the first study to directly assess intestinal microbiome contribution to oxidative stress in ME/CFS patients.
Identifying the source of oxidative stress and its impact on immune cell function will enable the development of treatment options to break this cycle.
Augmenting the UK Centre of Excellence for ME/CFS
The Invest in ME Research Ian Gibson Fellowship is an important step in supporting the continuity of the well-established research strategy for ME/CFS that is being performed and planned at the Quadram Institute and University of East Anglia.
Research into ME/CFS requires urgency and investment and it is necessary to maintain the research base developed over the years on the Norwich Research Park.
The charity has now funded five PhDs and is currently fully funding a microbiota replacement therapy (MRT) clinical trial at Quadram Institute. This is currently the only clinical trial for ME/CFS currently in the UK, and one of just a few in the world.
The new fellowship further enhances the opportunities at the centre, making it the pre-eminent location for funding research into this devastating disease.
The value of this UK/European centre of excellence for ME/CFS is clear and it is notable that this has been developed in partnership by patients and carers and a forward-looking research institute and university, with world-class researchers. The charity looks to continue funding the centre and facilitate the European/international collaboration within the European ME Research Group (EMERG).