Suzanne D Vernon, PhD

Research Director

Suzanne D. Vernon, PhDis the research director of BHC and is one of the nation’s leading researchers in ME/CFS. She is dedicated to finding treatments for chronic illnesses so that patients can return to long and productive lives. Her research helps find the causes and biomarkers for viral induced diseases and there have been several exciting discoveries. She published one of the first papers demonstrating that an HIV protein could turn on human papillomavirus cancer-causing genes. She spearheaded one of the first multiomics computational challenges to identify diagnostic biomarkers and treatment targets for myalgic encephalomyelitis. She was part of an international team to discover that severity of acute infection, rather than the specific pathogen, predicted who developed chronic disease. Dr Vernon thrives on disruptive innovation in research. This is how we will improve the health and lives of all people.     


Education and Training

Institution and Location Degree Completion  Field of Study
Colorado State University, Fort Collins BS 05/1983 Animal Science
Colorado State University, Fort Collins MS 05/1985 Microbiology
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin PhD 12/1989 Virology
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia Post-Doc 05/1992 Molecular Epidemiology


Personal Statement

I have dedicated the past 20 years of my professional research career on identifying biomarkers and possible causes of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). I have co-authored 105 peer- reviewed scientific papers that you can view here. I spent 17 years at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studying human papillomavirus, opportunistic infections in HIV-infected women and chronic fatigue syndrome. My CDC tenure was highlighted by a number of “firsts” including the demonstration of molecular interaction between HPV and HIV and conceiving and organizing an international BIG DATA computational challenge. At CDC I assembled an eclectic team of molecular biologists, engineers, physicists, and computational biologists to merge data collected in laboratory, clinical and epidemiology studies with the goal of identifying biomarkers to objectively define a complex, medically unexplained disease known as ME/CFS. I transitioned into the nonprofit sector to engage patients more readily as partners in the research process. To do so I “built” the Research Institute Without Walls (RIWW), the first nonprofit patient-centered research initiative focused on identifying diagnostic biomarkers and disease-modifying treatment for ME/CFS. The RIWW included a patient registry and biobank and attracted some of the brightest investigators from the best institutions into ME/CFS research. Now as Research Director at the Bateman Horne Center, I bring my experience, connections, and collaborations to build a research program focused on developing objective diagnostic measures and evidence-based treatments for ME/CFS. 


Positions and Honors

1983-1985 Graduate Research Assistant, Division of Vector Borne Diseases, Fort Collins, CO
1985-1989 Graduate Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
1987 Awarded Fulbright Student and Scholar program to study animal viruses in Bogota, Columbia
1988-1989 Field research, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, Heredia Costa Rica
1989 Awarded a 2-year National Science Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship, CDC, Atlanta, GA
1990-1992 National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, CDC Atlanta, GA
1992-1996 Research Microbiologist, CDC/DVRD, Atlanta, GA
1997-2007 Team Leader, Molecular Epidemiology Program, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases (DVRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA
2007-2015 Scientific Director, Solve ME/CFS Initiative, Los Angeles, California
2007 Nominated for the Society for Women’s Health Research Medtronic Prize
2009 Awarded “Excellence in Research” by the International Association of CFS/ME
2009 Nominated for the National Institutes of Health 2010 Council of Public Representatives
2012 Special Recognition Award, signed by Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health to recognize exemplary Team Performance exhibited by the XMRV Working Group for evaluating XMRV, a potential threat to the blood supply.
2013 Integration Panel for Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for Gulf War Illness
2013-2014 Institute of Medicine, committee member to define Chronic Multi-symptom Illness
2015-2017 Chief Scientific Officer, The BioCollective, LLC, Centennial, CO
2017-PR Research Director, Bateman Horne Center of Excellence, Salt Lake City, Utah

For details on Vernon’s additional contributions to science, publications, and research support click here.