Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) study - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) study

Seeking adults with and without fatigue symptoms

USC's Thompson Institute is seeking volunteer research participants who will help us understand the underlying illness process of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Participants will also help us develop imaging criteria that will aid the diagnosis of ME/CFS.

The study is the first to investigate brain function in ME/CFS in terms of energy supplies and chemical messengers. It is also the first significantly sized study to attempt to develop a diagnostic tool by combined advanced MRI and machine learning.

Girl looking visibly tired

We're seeking adults with diagnosed or unexplained fatigue conditions.

Man at computer

We're seeking healthy adults with a sedentary lifestyle.


The study might be a good fit for you if you are:

  • aged 25-65 years old, and a healthy adult with a sedentary lifestyle (doing strenuous physical exercise – such as tennis or gym workouts – for less than 30 minutes per week)


  • aged 25-65 years old, and have:
    • an unexplained fatigue condition, or
    • ME/CFS, or
    • Fibromyalgia.
What the study involves

As a research participant, you would take part in:

  • A screening telephone interview;
  • At your own pace, seven questionnaires for assessing different aspects of mental and physical health status;
  • Blood pressure, pulse rate, height, weight, and oxygen saturation measurements and a joint hypermobility task;
  • Wearing an activity monitor wristwatch and chest strap to capture your physical activity, sleep/wake information and heart-rate for fourteen days. The wristwatch and chest strap need to be returned at the Thompson Institute reception after fourteen days of usage;
  • One magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan (60 minutes’ scanning time plus preparation). If you are willing, a second scan may take place.

Participants with fatigue conditions will also take part in:

  • Two interviews with two specialists. Each interview will be scheduled for 30 – 45 minutes.

Research is conducted on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Why this study is important

ME/CFS is a poorly understood, debilitating, complicated illness affecting 17 million people worldwide. There is no known underlying disease process for ME/CFS and no biological basis for diagnosis. Diagnoses are typically lengthy and occur by a process of elimination. Treatments are typically inadequate due to the unknown cause. Understanding the brain disease process of ME/CFS will allow the design of biologically-based therapeutic interventions and faster, more effective diagnosis methods.

Contact us

For more information please:

  • email us at
  • phone us on + 61 7 5456 5445


Register your interest in being a volunteer research participant for our ME/CFS study

Ethics Approval Number: A191288