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The 2020 Brain Health Research Centre Lecture

Emeritus Professor Warren Tate will present the 2020 BHRC Lecture, entitled "Understanding the biological basis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and its sudden increase in public profile with COVID-19"


Worldwide ME/CFS has been an unexplained and misunderstood neurological disease with little public profile despite affecting an estimated 15 million people worldwide. The lack of a molecular-based diagnostic test led to a strong belief that the disease was “psychological”. A breakthrough in perception came in 2015 with the Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Science in the USA publishing an extensive report concluding that ME/CFS was a serious disease that was not psychologically based, and regretting that patients had received such poor attention. In New Zealand, ME/CFS has not been well recognised by health professionals or social agencies, despite 20,000–25,000 being afflicted with this debilitating and life-long disease.

In 2011, I set out to establish an understanding of the biological basis of ME/CFS as both a member of an affected family and a biomedical researcher. We have now completed multiple molecular preclinical studies on affected patients and have established unequivocal evidence of a complex disturbance in their physiology. Highlighted are neural functions and a disturbed autonomic neural system, inflammation, immune function and regulation, energy production, the circadian clock, cellular and oxidative stress and significantly general hypo-metabolism. The “control centre” mediating and sustaining the illness is likely centred in the hypothalamus of the brain and may reside in clusters of neurons within the stress centre of the paraventricular nucleus. A newly discovered cluster of neurons in animals but not yet in humans, called the torpor or fatigue “centre”, is also a compelling candidate.

Public recognition and awareness of ME/CFS has skyrocketed with the increasing occurrences of “Long COVID”. Patients are suffering long-lasting post-COVID-19 fatigue and symptoms frequently observed in ME/CFS, as these “long haulers” fail to recover from their coronavirus illness.

A recording of the lecture can be accessed here after the event.

Date Monday, 23 November 2020
Time 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Audience Public,All University,Alumni,Staff,Postgraduate students
Event Type Lecture
LocationSt David Seminar room A/B
CostNo cost
Contact NameEmily Bisset
Contact Phone03 479 5643

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