Michael VanElzakker, Phd, is a neuroscientist affiliated at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Tufts University. He has two primary research interests: post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). He has proposed a vagus nerve infection hypothesis (VNIH) for ME/CFS.
Dr. VanElzakker current research involves performing brain scans on ME/CFS patients and controls and analyzing the differences.
- 1 Education and affiliations
- 2 Open letter to The Lancet
- 3 Notable studies
- 4 Talks and interviews
- 5 Quotes
- 6 Online presence
- 7 References
Education and affiliations[edit | edit source]
- Univeristy of Colorado at Boulder - Bachelors's and Master's, Psychology/Behavioral Neuroscience
- Tufts University - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Psychology: Psychiatric neuroscience - 2010 to 2015
- Harvard Medical School - Post Doctorate - 2015 to Present
- Neuroendocrinology Lab Manager - University of Colorado August 2004 – May 2010
- Massachusetts General Hospital - 2010 to Present
Open letter to The Lancet[edit | edit source]
Two open letters to the editor of The Lancet urged the editor to commission a fully independent review of the PACE trial, which the journal had published in 2011. In 2016, Dr. VanElzakker, along with 41 colleagues in the ME/CFS field, signed the second letter.
- Feb 10, 2016, An open letter to The Lancet, again - Virology blog
Notable studies[edit | edit source]
- 2013, Chronic fatigue syndrome from vagus nerve infection: A psychoneuroimmunological hypothesis - (Full text)
- 2019, Neuroinflammation and cytokines in myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS): A critical review of research methods - (Full text)
Talks and interviews[edit | edit source]
- 2014, An Interview with Michael VanElzakker, Phd
- 2015, Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Michael VanElZakker: Chronic fatigue vagus nerve link
- 2015, Podcast interview on Chronic Fatigue from Vagus Nerve Infection
- 2015, Appears in Forgotten Plague explaining his hypothesis
- 2016, Dr VanElzakker: two new ME/CFS studies at Harvard "Everyone here [at Harvard] recognizes that it’s a neuroimmune condition and approaches it that way."–"We don’t have a test yet, therefore it’s psychogenic? That reveals a tragic lack of humility about what we know and what we don’t know."
- 2017, Interview with neuroscientist Michael VanElzakker: Vagus Nerve, ME/CFS, latent infection and more 
- Mar 30, 2018, ME/CFS Research with Michael VanElzakker, Vagus Nerve, triggers, ME/CFS Alert Episode 97
- Nov 15, 2018, ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia: The Sexist Truth about "Contested Illnesses" interview by Isabella Rosario
- 31 May 2019, Speaker at the 14th Invest in ME International ME Conference 2019; Speech title - Ongoing study of physiological and fMRI measures before/after symptom provocation by invasive cardiopulmonary exercise testing- (Video)
- 8 June 2019, Neurology of ME/CFS: Neuroinflammation imaging, given at the Inaugural Harvard ME/CFS Collaboration Symposium sponsored by Open Medicine Foundation
Quotes[edit | edit source]
Referenced[edit | edit source]
Cognitive behavioral therapy[edit | edit source]
- On the topic of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): "I understand that this is a really charged topic among CFS advocates, and there is a lot of misinformation out there. Just to be clear, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) does not get at the root cause of CFS. CBT offers coping strategies and is not a cure. But I can’t think of a single medical condition that isn’t exacerbated by stress. CFS is no different. Having a chronic illness is stressful and it makes one’s life complicated and there’s a grieving process. CBT is for those parts of the illness. It’s intended to help people solve problems and to challenge dysfunctional patterns. If you’re seeing a CBT practitioner who views CFS as a psychologically-based illness and is approaching your CBT that way, fire them. Find someone else."
Twitter[edit | edit source]
Cognitive behavioral therapy[edit | edit source]
- "Subjective measures of sick people before & after they are repeatedly told, "You're not sick" is a social psych study, not a clinical trial."
- "What #PACEtrial called "CBT" is not normal CBT. Cancer patients see CBT therapists all the time and are not told, 'you're not really sick.'"
Vagus nerve infection hypothesis[edit | edit source]
- Quoting Louis Pasteur in reference to Vagus nerve infection hypothesis: "The germ is nothing; the terrain is everything."
Male and female differences in neuropathic pain[edit | edit source]
- "I've always seen glial cell action in neuropathic pain as a model for #VNIH. This paper elucidates sex differences:"
- "Sex differences in #MECFS could be explained by sex differences in glial cell & vagus nerve function." #VNIH.
Online presence[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- VanElzakker, Michael B. (2013). "Chronic fatigue syndrome from vagus nerve infection: a psychoneuroimmunological hypothesis". Medical Hypotheses. 81 (3): 414–423. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2013.05.034. ISSN 1532-2777. PMID 23790471.
- VanElzakker, Michael (Jun 23, 2013). "VanElzakker VNIH CFS in press.pdf". PDF Archive. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- Tuller, David (Feb 10, 2016). "An open letter to The Lancet, again". www.virology.ws. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- VanElzakker, Michael B. "Chronic fatigue syndrome from vagus nerve infection:A psychoneuroimmunological hypothesis". Medical Hypotheses. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- VanElzakker, Michael B.; Brumfield, Sydney A.; Mejia, Paula S. Lara (Jan 10, 2019). "Neuroinflammation and cytokines in myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS): A critical review of research methods". Frontiers in Neurology. doi:10.3389/fneur.2018.01033.
- Johnson, Cort (Feb 14, 2014). "Michael VanElzakker Ph.d Talks – About the Vagus Nerve Infection Hypothesis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) - Simmaron Research". Simmaron Research. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- Ykelenstam, Yasmina (Dec 8, 2015). "Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Michael Van ElZakker: chronic fatigue vagus nerve link | Healing Histamine". Healing Histamine. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- Ykelenstam, Yasmina (Dec 7, 2015). "Yasmina Ykelenstam's Healing Histamine Podcast: Chronic Fatigue from Vagus Nerve Infection: A Psychoneuroimmunological Hypothesis". thelowhistaminechefpodcast.libsyn.com. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- S, Jaime (Dec 12, 2016). "Dr VanElzakker: two new ME/CFS studies at Harvard - #MEAction". #MEAction. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- Proal, Amy (Dec 7, 2017). "Interview with neuroscientist Michael VanElzakker: Vagus Nerve, ME/CFS, latent infection and more | Microbe Minded". microbeminded.com. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- King, Llewellyn (Mar 30, 2018). "ME/CFS Research with Michael VanElzakker, Vagus Nerve, triggers | ME/CFS Alert Episode 97". YouTube.
- "Invest in ME Research - IIMEC14 14th Invest in ME Reseaerch International ME Conference 2019". www.investinme.org. Retrieved Feb 17, 2020.
- Jenson, Gregory (Dec 13, 2016). "CFS correspondence on the Department's view of the PACE trial - cais Rhyddid Gwybodaeth i". WhatDoTheyKnow. Dr Michael VanElzakker. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- Van Elzakker, Michael (Aug 16, 2016). "Michael VanElzakker on Twitter". Twitter. 3:36 PM. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- Van Elzakker, Michael (Apr 8, 2014). "Michael VanElzakker on Twitter". Twitter. 7:31 AM. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- VanElzakker, Michael (Sep 13, 2016). "Michael VanElzakker on Twitter". Twitter. 7:31 PM. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
- Dodds, KN; Beckett, EAH; Evans, SF; Grace, PM; Watkins, LR; Hutchinson, MR (2016). "Glial contributions to visceral pain: implications for disease etiology and the female predominance of persistent pain" (PDF). www.nature.com.
- VanElzakker, Michael (Sep 15, 2016). "Michael VanElzakker on Twitter". Twitter. 12:43 PM. Retrieved Oct 14, 2018.
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) - A controversial term, invented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, that generally refers to a collection of symptoms as “fatigue”. There have been multiple attempts to come up with a set of diagnostic criteria to define this term, but few of those diagnostic criteria are currently in use. Previous attempts to define this term include the Fukuda criteria and the Oxford criteria. Some view the term as a useful diagnostic category for people with long-term fatigue of unexplained origin. Others view the term as a derogatory term borne out of animus towards patients. Some view the term as a synonym of myalgic encephalomyelitis, while others view myalgic encephalomyelitis as a distinct disease.
myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) - A disease often marked by neurological symptoms, but fatigue is sometimes a symptom as well. Some diagnostic criteria distinguish it from chronic fatigue syndrome, while other diagnostic criteria consider it to be a synonym for chronic fatigue syndrome. A defining characteristic of ME is post-exertional malaise (PEM), or post-exertional neuroimmune exhaustion (PENE), which is a notable exacerbation of symptoms brought on by small exertions. PEM can last for days or weeks. Symptoms can include cognitive impairments, muscle pain (myalgia), trouble remaining upright (orthostatic intolerance), sleep abnormalities, and gastro-intestinal impairments, among others. An estimated 25% of those suffering from ME are housebound or bedbound. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies ME as a neurological disease.