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

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Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) study

UniSC'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.


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

  • aged 18-65 years old, and a healthy adult with an inactive lifestyle
    (NB: 'inactive lifestyle' means participating in vigorous physical activity for less than 160 minutes per week; such as running, gym, swimming etc. Walking is not considered vigorous activity unless it is push walking);

  • aged 18-65 years old, and have:
    • an unexplained fatigue condition, or
    • ME/CFS, or
    • Fibromyalgia, or
    • Long COVID

The nature of the study's investigations also requires participants to:

  • Not be taking medication for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or heart-related conditions
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or below (this exclusion criterion is necessary because the brain and its functions can differ depending on BMI and thus is a potential confounding factor in our data collection. Please note that BMI is not related in any way to CFS risk or prevalence).
  • Meet safety requirements to participate in the study's Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This includes not having metal implants or facial tattoos.
MRI at the Thompson Institute


Register your interest in being a volunteer research participant for our ME/CFS study. We appreciate your time and commitment to participate in the study. Thus, each participant will receive A$50 as reimbursement for travel costs per visit to the Thompson Institute for data collection purposes. Participants will also receive an image of their brain.

Seeking adults with and without fatigue symptoms

What the study involves

As a research participant, you would take part in:

Participants with fatigue conditions will also take part in:

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.

Fibromyalgia is another common, debilitating and poorly understood condition, which frequently occurs together with ME/CFS, but can occur independently. This study therefore is also investigating individuals with Primary Fibromyalgia to try to understand this condition’s relationship with ME/CFS.

Contact us

Tel: +61 7 5456 5445

Ethics Approval Number: A191288
This study is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR): ACTRN12622001095752