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Beyond Tired: NSU Specialist On Why She's Looking For A Cure For Chronic Fatigue

The documentary 'Unrest' follows a patient of Dr. Nancy Klimas and other Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sufferers.
Nova Southeastern University
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Nova Southeastern University is home to a leading research practice for chronic fatigue syndrome. The condition’s full name ismyalgic encephalomyelitis,but it’s abbreviated to ME/CFS. The chronic immune illness causes brain and muscle inflammation. 


Dr. Nancy Klimas heads that research. She chairs the Department of Clinical Immunology at NSU, and teaches in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. She also works with the Miami VA system on Gulf War Illness.


Dr. Nancy Klimas has been researching chronic fatigue syndrome for more than 30 years.
Credit Nova Southeastern University / WLRN
The Florida Channel
Dr. Nancy Klimas has been researching chronic fatigue syndrome for more than 30 years.

We spoke with Dr. Klimas before she gave a talk on Saturday in Davie after a screening of a documentary called ‘Unrest.’ It follows the lives and struggles of one of her patients and others.


WLRN: The average person who thinks chronic fatigue syndrome’, what are the symptoms? Klimas: So the symptoms are one of profound fatigue, a  fatigue and body pain that’s made much much worse by overexerting. And overexertion can be a very short walk down the driveway or going grocery shopping. 

This is something that a lot of doctors just write off or prescribe sleep aids for. Why are you trying to find a cure?

 You know, in this documentary there’s a scene where I’m talking - and I’m talking about my first patient. And that really is what hooked me up. This patient came in, she had all the symptoms, she’s totally miserable. She had been to a lot of different doctors, and every doctor had said there was nothing wrong with her. 

And we have a research laboratory, so we can look in a much deeper way. We did the whole nine yards. We looked at every immune function we knew, and I came back to this patient and I said, ‘You know, I’m sorry, I found an awful lot wrong with your immune system. This is like, a serious problem.’ And she burst into tears. And I was shattered, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I really handled that badly. I should have done something better.’ 

But they were tears of joy. She was so happy that someone had actually found something, that this was real.

Dr. Klimas and her team will begin some trials at NSU in the coming months. And the documentary ‘Unrest’ will air on PBS in January 2018.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.