scientific study of one of medicine’s most vexing mysteries, chronic fatigue syndrome, launched recently, and it includes a patient whose emotional plea to NIH Director Francis Collins helped trigger the initiative.

Brian Vastag, 45, a former science writer and Washington Post reporter who, in mid-2015, penned an open letter to Collins seeking more funding for the disorder, traveled last week from his home in Kauai to Bethesda, Md. On Monday, he joined a group that will grow to more than 100 people undergoing a battery of tests aimed at one day finding a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome, which is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis.

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