CFSAC Public Testimony, Nov. 8th, 2011
By Kenneth J .Friedman, Ph.D.
I wish to inform the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee and other stakeholders in the ME/CFS Community that there is a window of opportunity to potentially restore ME/CFS research, education, and other, related, scholarly activities to one of this country’s most populated states: New Jersey. The Governor of New Jersey has formed a UMDNJ Advisory Committee the purpose of which is to advise him as to the future of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). The options range from doing nothing and keeping UMDNJ, the largest, free-standing, academic healthcare University in the United States, as is, to completely dismantling the University and dividing its components and assets amongst other New Jersey academic institutions. The Committee is now willing to accept comments from the public.
The impetus for the establishment of the UMDNJ Advisory Committee may reside in the corroded image of UMDNJ, forever charred into this nation’s psyche, by its purposeful, $35 million dollar, double-billing of Medicare. However, of equal or perhaps greater concern to the ME/CFS Community is the February, 2010 decision of the University to ban ME/CFS research, education and related scholarly activities from the University using the pretext that such activity is not “professional” but rather “personal.” According to that policy, any and all scholarly activity related to ME/CFS may be performed performed by faculty only outside of regular, normal business hours. The policy further forbids use of the University’s portal to the internet for any ME/CFS-related research, and denies use of the University’s email client server for correspondence with anyone about anything related to ME/CFS.
The University’s policy to ban ME/CFS scholarly activity came after two, related New Jersey Medical School attempts to minimize the professional nature of ME/CFS related activities: (1) the New Jersey Medical School refused to consider the Consensus Manual for the Primary Care and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a peer reviewed publication despite its having been reviewed and approved for publication by the Senior Editor of Harvard University Medical Press, Dr. Anthony Kamoroff, and its translation into two foreign languages, and (2) the New Jersey Medical School maintains that five years of service on the CFSAC did not constitute professional, academic service at the national level since individuals without scientific background, such as Magic Johnson has served on Advisory Committees.
UMDNJ controls all three of the state’s medical schools, as well as the state’s only dental school, school of nursing, school of health related professions, school of public health, and graduate school of biomedical sciences. This ban of ME/CFS scholarly activity in the University is, therefore, impacts patient care in the greater New York metropolitan areas, as well as the advancement of ME/CFS research, and healthcare provider education and training throughout the United States. Equally important, however, is the precedent that this establishes for other medical schools and schools training healthcare professionals throughout the United States to establish similar policies.
UMDNJ’s actions are clearly an attack on academic freedom – the right of college and university faculty to pursue their academic interest – and should be opposed on that basis if for no other reason. If UMDNJ wishes to continue as a university, then it must behave as such and afford its faculty the rights afforded to University faculty elsewhere. For UMDNJ to continue as a healthcare university, it needs to comply with the principle of academic freedom.
Of particular concern to the ME/CFS community, is the failure of UMDNJ to honor the CDC’s ME/CFS policy as articulated by its Director in 2006, Dr. Julie Gerberding, who stated, “We are committed to improving the awareness that this [ME/CFS] is a real illness and that people need real medical care and they deserve the best possible help that we can provide.” Why does the Department of Health and Human Services’ continue to provide funding to UMDNJ when UMDNJ maintains that faculty who engage in scholarly activity related to ME/CFS are engaging in non-professional activity? The Department of Health and Human Services continues to give money to a University which knowingly and deliberately obstructs one of its agency’s mandates. Why?
Governor Chris Christie’s UMDNJ Advisory Committee has received testimony from UMDNJ employees expressing the belief that UMDNJ be retained in its current configuration. Current employees may have a vested interest in retaining UMDNJ in its current corpus. Stakeholders of the ME/CFS Community may have a different opinion, since dismantling UMDNJ would remove the ban and restore ME/CFS activities to New Jersey’s healthcare centers. The CFSAC may wish to make a recommendation to the U.S. Secretary of Health based upon the facts conveyed herein and, perhaps, after its own, further investigation.
According to what was published by UMDNJ, comments may be submitted via email to:
The window of opportunity for submitting comments is not specified.
I would not wait long.
Thank-you for your attention.
Thanks for your Testimony and for supplying the typed copy for the committee.
Send those emails.. Here's a Place WAITING to be Used Properly...
and if used for ME/CFS the Revenge would be OH SO Sweet !!