Exploring the puzzle that is ME/CFS and related neuroimmunlogical diseases

On 13th September 2014 we got in a room with world leading researcher Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik, ME/CFS and Lyme medical expert Dr Richard Schloeffel as well as highly regarded GPs in their field of expertise to discuss the medical complexity of ME/CFS with the view to enabling clinicians to work more effectively with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related neuroimmunological diseases.



  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Diagnosis and Treatment – Dr Richard Schloeffel (Video & Slides)
  • Potential immunological and gene expression involvement in the development of CFS/ME – Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik (NCNED) (No video/slide available)
  • Gut and brain functions in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome – Dr Henry Butt (No video/slide available)
  • Employment, superannuation & insurance issues for people with ME/CFS –  Principal Mr John Berill, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers (Video & Slides)
  • Disorders of; blood pressure and of connective tissue elasticity, and how they relate to ME/CFS –  Mr Chris O’Callaghan (Video & Slides)

If you would like a physical DVD of the three speakers who were video’d you can purchase a copy from us. All proceeds from the sale go directly to Emerge Australia to support our continued work.

A write-up of the full seminar is available in the Summer issue of our Emerge Journal which is available to all members with their membership.


About the speakers:

Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik

Professor Marshall-Gradisnik’s area of specialization is immunology and immunogenetics of CFS/ME.  She and her colleague Dr Donald Staines established the National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases, Griffith University, which is the one of the most successful international research centre for immunological and gene expression changes in CFS.  Such discoveries help turn the course of events in terms of clinicians and researchers acknowledging the illness may be an autoimmune/autoinflammatory disease and she has received over $4.0 Million dollars for CFS research.    She is the only Australian to sit on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, she has in excess of 82 publications and has been cited over 532 time in the past five years for immune and gene changes in CFS patients.

Currently, Professor Marshall-Gradisnik is writing the commentary for the clinical management of CFS for the NHMRC (Australia) Clinical Guideline Website. Her research has been internationally recognised by her peers as she and her research team have been awarded 6 National/International Research Awards- she was awarded the 2011 Queensland Rising Star Award for Biomedical Research for her immunological and genetic research as early indicators for the development of CFS as well as she was awarded the Australian Best Young Australian Researcher for Science and Medicine and Sport for her immunological research.

In 2014 Professor Marshall-Gradisnik established the first Australian CFS research/medical clinic at Griffith University; developed in conjunction with Queensland Health, CFS public health programs, epidemiology and clinical support for patients/carers in the context of the new university teaching hospital within Griffith University.  It is the only such centre in the world, and is regarded by international researchers and patients as the best practice model for CFS. More recently she had an idea about CFS patients being able to monitor their symptoms and with her colleagues developed the novel iPhone App for CFS to achieve such an idea.

Professor Marshall-Gradisnik, has a vision for CFS patients to deliver a holistic approach for not only to lead world class research to identify the pathology of CFS, but to ensure health care services are carefully woven into clinical management  which are direct translational benefits for CFS patients.

Dr Richard Schloeffel

Dr Richard Schloeffel graduated in 1978 from NSW Uni with post -graduate training in isolated rural general practice. He worked in country practices for thirteen years and spent five years working in the developing world, including Papua New Guinea, China, India, Bali and Eastern Europe. For the last twenty years He has been the principal at ‘Pymble Grove Health Centre’ where he has been treating and specializing in complex and chronic disorders with an integrative team of practitioners.

This broad experience has been invaluable in developing the diagnosis and treatment of chronic disorders and the ability to look beyond the existing paradigms to a deeper and more profound understanding of complex disease, particularly Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Borreliosis and its co-infections and Auto Immune Disease.

Dr Schloeffel has treated over three and a half thousand patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related disorders, refining diagnosis and appropriate investigations and management protocols. He has lectured widely on CFS and is currently undertaking research at Sydney University into Australian Lyme Disease.

Dr. Henry Butt MSc PhD

Henry Butt was the Scientist-In-Charge at the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Newcastle Mater Misericordiae Hospital, and at the John Hunter Hospital, prior to becoming the Director of the company Bioscreen (Aust) Pty Ltd, Melbourne in 2014. While with the Hunter Area Health, he was appointed as Tutor in Pathology (Microbiology) for the NSW government regional rural hospitals. As an invited lecturer for the College of Advanced Education, Newcastle, he lectured Medical Bacteriology in 1982-1987, and later as Conjoint Lecturer at the University of Newcastle for the Departments of Pathology, Health (Nursing, Medical Sciences, Biotechnology) and Biological Sciences in 1994-2000.  His research interest is in the pathophysiology of the intestinal microbiome in chronic diseases.

 Mr John Berill

John Berrill is partner at the Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and is a superannuation and insurance lawyer.

He is an accredited personal injuries specialist.

John is on the boards of the Travel Compensation Fund, the Consumer Action Law Centre, the Chronic Illness Alliance and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal Advisory Council.

He was a member of the Financial Industry Complaints Service Board & Panel, the Superstream Advisory Council, the Stronger Super Implementation Committee and the Natural Disaster Insurance Review Panel.

He has worked in the areas of superannuation, insurance and financial advice for 20 years, providing advocacy and advice to consumers, workers, community groups & disability groups.

Mr Chris O’Callaghan

Associate Professor Chris O’Callaghan is a clinical pharmacologist and general physician at Austin Health, Heidelberg. A/Prof Chris O’Callaghan heads the Blood Pressure Disorders Clinic at Austin Health which specialises in treating patients who have impaired ability to control blood pressure, which produces many of the symptoms seen in ME/CFS such as faintness, lightheadedness, impaired concentration, ‘anxiety’ type symptoms and palpitations.  Conditions that result in impaired blood pressure control include spinal cord injury, disease of the autonomic system, fatigue disorders such as ME/CFS and disorders of connective tissue elasticity such as joint hypermobility syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  Associate Professor O’Callaghan is the author of many scientific papers and an active researcher of cardiovascular disease.


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