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Project Descriptions

Pediatric CFS in a Community-Based Sampl

Principal Investigator: Leonard A. Jason, PhD 
Co-Investigator: Ben Katz, M.D.
Project Director: Madison Sunnquist, MA

Grant funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development


Existing published pediatric epidemiologic CFS studies are similar to the first generation of adult CFS prevalence studies in that they have had poor sampling plans [e.g., recruitment at medical centers (Nijhofet al., 2011)], systematic biases that excluded certain people such as youth of lower socioeconomic status and those of color who were less likely to have access to health care (Dobbins et al., 1997), or failed to include a medical examination (Jones et al., 2004). We will determine the prevalence of pediatric CFS in a demographically diverse sample of participants unbiased by illness, help-seeking behaviors, or differential access to the health care system.  This study will determine the prevalence of pediatric CFS in a community-based sample, as well as the relative frequency of CFS among various groups (e.g., different age groups, genders). 

A Prospective Study of CFS Following Infectious Mononucleosis in College Students

Principal Investigators: Leonard A. Jason, PhD  and Ben Katz, MD
Project Director: Joseph Cotler, PhD

Grant funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH


About 12% of young adults will meet the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) 6 months following infectious mononucleosis (IM) (Katz et al., 2011).  IM appears to be a predisposing factor for some individuals who develop CFS.  Many candidate psychological and biological risk factors have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, but almost all  lack  prospective data from before the patients became ill with either IM or CFS.   Some students develop IM while in college.  Many student health services have students who use their services when they are medically well (e.g., for sports-related injuries and birth control).  Our study will enroll Northwestern University (NU) students who use the university-based health services when medically well, as well as after they develop IM and CFS. We will gather biological and psychological data when students are well, when they develop IM, and when they develop CFS.  At the end of the 3 year recruitment period, we will continue to follow those who have developed CFS for 12 months.  We will collect data regarding candidate biological and psychological factors thought to be related to the development of CFS, such as previous stressful life events, “action proneness”, coping skills, autonomic dysfunction, cytokine levels and the severity of the IM itself.  Our proposed study will compare these prospective pre-illness (IM) variables to post-illness (IM) data between students who do and do not go on to develop CFS.  This study will be able to identify risk factors for the development of CFS following IM.  We have the unique ability to implement this prospective study with a “captive” and high-risk population for the development of IM and CFS.