The Ramsay Research Fund

Seeking diagnostic markers, causes, and treatments

The Ramsay Research Fund

The ME Association funds its research through the Ramsay Research Fund (RRF) which was named after Dr Melvin Ramsay who brought the neurological disease Myalgic Encephalomyelitis to the attention of the medical profession in 1955.  

Dr Ramsay also helped establish the charity which was founded in 1980. He remained closely involved and continued to be a stalwart advocate for people with this medical condition, until his death in 1990.

  • We continue to regard the funding and promotion of medical research as a top priority. Good quality research provides much-needed hope for a deserving and desperate patient community. 
  • In recent years we have been fortunate to benefit from some large legacies and have been building reserves so that we might contribute to more significant studies that we hope will build on some of the interesting pilot research deserving replication. 
  • We have been learning more about ME/CFS – what causes and perpetuates it – and one day we hope we might discover a diagnostic marker and effective treatments. 
  • We can assist interested researchers with pilot investigations and replication attempts, support them when they make grant applications to the MRC or NIHR, and work collaboratively with charity partners to fund larger projects. 
  • We will only see discoveries accepted when large-scale studies and clinical trials are undertaken, and to this effect we will continue to lobby the MRC and NIHR to support such investment. 

We only invest in biomedical research

We invest in biomedical research studies and infrastructure projects that will lead to: 

  • a better understanding of underlying disease mechanisms. 
  • the development of reliable diagnostic tests for use in clinics. 
  • safe and effective forms of treatment. 

ME/CFS is a complex illness with symptoms that cut across severe medical disciplines – genetics, endocrinology, immunology, muscle pathology, and neurology in particular.  

Research into the underlying cause (or causes) of this disease is rather like piecing together a complex medical jigsaw. 

We actively seek researchers who will search for and examine these disease mechanisms. This remains a top priority because we are committed to understanding this disease and to discovering effective forms of treatment. 

Why is it so important that we raise money for research?

  • We believe that a key part of the charity’s role is to offer hope to more than 250,000 people who live with ME/CFS in the UK.  
  • They desperately want to return to a normal way of life, and one of the best ways to achieve this goal is to fund quality medical research that might discover effective treatments. 
  • ME/CFS research has been appallingly underfunded compared to other serious medical conditions and we do as much as we can to address this imbalance.  
  • While we are limited by the resources we have, we will work with research teams and charity partners on making bigger grant applications to the MRC and NIHR, as we did with the DecodeME study. 
  • We need to support studies that can replicate existing research and build upon discoveries with gold-standard clinical trials. The field is littered with small-scale studies some of which are very interesting, but we need much larger studies if we are to make real progress. 
  • We are keen to explore the emerging similarities between ME/CFS and Long Covid. We want to promote and invest in studies that examine them together and are hopeful that Long Covid research and any treatments that are developed could bring hope to people with ME/CFS. 
  • Medical research is very expensive and comes with a great risk. Working to find the underlying cause, diagnostic markers and effective forms of treatment hasn’t been easy. But that has not and will not prevent us from trying! 

How much is spent on administration? 

  • The RRF is a restricted fund which means that all donations are used exclusively for research activity. We make no administration charges.  
  • We are very aware that people who give money to research want to see it spent on research – and not swallowed up by administration expenses. 
  • We do not employ any extra staff to deal with routine administration or the research we are funding, and any support that is required is met out of general funds. 
Administration Costs

How to apply for a research grant. 

  1. We would encourage any researcher to first contact Dr Charles Shepherd, Trustee and Hon. Medical Adviser to the ME Association (via for an initial informal discussion. 
  1. If you would then like to proceed and submit a grant application, please do so by providing some preliminary information on the research proposition form. The proposal will then be discussed by Trustees, who aim to respond within 4 weeks of receipt. 
  1. The next stage in the process will require submission of a formal grant application, but this should not be completed until your proposal has received approval. 
  1. Grant decisions are based on the guidelines produced by the Association of Medical Research Charities and we will normally include both an internal and external peer review of all formal grant applications. 

Animal testing 

  • The RRF is not funding any research that involves the use of animals nor do we have any plans (or applications) to fund research that involves the use of animals. 
  • We would not completely rule out the use of animal research if we were convinced that information from this could lead to an effective form of treatment for ME/CFS and that there was no other way in which this research could be carried out. 
  • But this is clearly a hypothetical situation that is very unlikely to occur because any research into the treatment of ME/CFS is being conducted through clinical trials involving human volunteers. 
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