Menzies Health Institute QLD Seminar Series - Professors Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik and Don Staines

Menzies Health Institute QLD Seminar Series - Professors Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik and Don Staines

Principal speaker

Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik

Other speakers

Professor Don Staines

Seminar Title: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis: Immunological Insights


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This seminar is open to all staff and students who wish to learn about immune dysregulation and its causes and consequences in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME).

ME/CFS is complex illness characterised by impaired memory and concentration, metabolic, cardiac and gut dysfunction and debilitating muscle pain and fatigue on exertion also described as neuroimmune exhaustion. It is estimated that the prevalence of CFS/ME worldwide is 1-2%.  While the pathomechanism of CFS/ME is unknown, a consistent feature reported in CFS/ME patients is immunological dysregulation.  

The National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases (NCNED), Griffith University, is internationally recognised for the novel identification of key changes in the immune system and a number of immune phenotypic changes in CFS/ME patients.  Recently, NCNED have reported single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes for transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels as well as changes in these receptors’ numbers on immune cells, which are important for calcium (Ca2+) signaling.  Moreover, we have reported changes in intracellular Ca2+ from isolated immune cells from CFS/ME patients.  Collectively, these data suggest CFS/ME is characterised by consistent immune dysregulation as well as functional changes that may be due to receptor changes and perturbations of intracellular Ca2+ signaling.  


Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik (PhD, Co-Director, NCNED)

Professor Marshall-Gradisnik is a Professor of Immunology, Griffith University.  She completed her postdoctoral research fellowship at Copenhagen Hospital, Denmark and has been the recipient of a number of national and international research awards for her work in the area of immunology and CFS/ME.  In 2013 she was appointed to the Board of Directors of the International Association for CFS/ME.  Professor Marshall-Gradisnik and Professor Staines lead the National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases, the largest international research and clinical team specialising in CFS/ME.

Professor Donald Staines (MBBS, MPH, FAFPHM, FAFOEM, Co-Director, NCNED)

Professor Staines is a Clinical Professor, Griffith University.  Prior to his appointment at Griffith University, Professor Staines was the Public Health Physician for Gold Coast Public Health Unit for 13 years.  He has extensive experience in Public Health and he has worked in the fields of communicable diseases, epidemiology, public health planning and health services management.

Their genetic and immunological research findings in the area of CFS/ME are regarded as the most significant evidence for immunological and genetic changes for the development of this illness and resulted in world-first publications. These findings facilitated changing the research direction for the potential origin of this illness.  Since 2009 they have secured in excess of $7 million from competitive research grants for investigating the potential immune and genetic markers for the development of CFS/ME.  Currently, Professor Marshall-Gradisnik and Professor Staines have two provisional patents for the early detection of this illness. 

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