Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME/CFS

The aim of this programme is to support high quality and collaborative research into myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME/CFS, a complex and serious debilitating medical condition with a diverse range of symptoms.

Partners involved:
Medical Research Council (MRC)

The scope and what we're doing

Supporting and enabling a strong portfolio of ME/CFS research has been a high priority for MRC for several years.

ME/CFS is a complex and serious debilitating medical condition with a diverse range of symptoms. The most well known of these is profound physical or mental fatigue (or both), while others include pain, disturbed sleep patterns and gastrointestinal problems. Each patient experiences their own personal combination of symptoms.

Why we're doing it

There is an unmet clinical need for better diagnosis and treatments for people living with ME/CFS.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Funding opportunities

MRC has supported this area of research through a cross-board highlight notice since 2003.

High quality applications are invited to any of MRC’s research boards or fellowship schemes, as appropriate, based on the scientific or clinical area.

Find out how MRC decides which research proposals to fund.

Strategic initiatives

In addition to response-mode funding, MRC continues to support ME/CFS research through the DecodeME strategic initiative.


In 2020, MRC and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) jointly funded the £3.2 million DecodeME study (£1.4 million from NIHR and 1.8 million from MRC).

The study is analysing samples from 20,000 people with ME/CFS to search for genetic differences that may indicate underlying causes or increase the risk of developing the condition. The research will be the world’s largest genome-wide association study of ME/CFS and hopes to aid the development of diagnostic tests and targeted treatments.

The study is led by a collaboration of researchers, people with ME/CFS, carers and advocates. It grew out of the UK ME/CFS Research Collaborative, which Professor Sir Stephen Holgate (University of Southampton) established in 2013.

In 2019, MRC and NIHR supported a workshop to bring together scientists, charities and people living with ME/CFS, to provide recommendations and inform the development of the research proposal.

DecodeME was awarded following submission and peer review of this research proposal.

ME/CFS Priority Setting Partnership

In 2022, MRC co-funded an ME/CFS Priority Setting Partnership to identify the top 10+ ME/CFS research priorities. The partnership was led by people with ME/CFS, their carers and clinicians, and facilitated by non-profit making initiative, the James Lind Alliance.

We would particularly welcome proposals that address 1 or more of the research areas identified by the ME/CFS Priority Setting Partnership under the MRC ‘researching ME/CFS: highlight notice’.

UKCRC ME Research Subgroup

MRC is a part of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) ME Research Subgroup. This group brings together partners and wider expert stakeholders to raise awareness of ME/CFS research, build trust, support researchers to develop high quality research proposals and increase capacity in the research workforce in this area.

Who to contact

Last updated: 18 July 2023

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