Standing Up for Patients: An Interview with Dr. Derek Enlander

By Gabby Klein, Phoenix Rising

Dr. Enlander serves on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York as well as attending physician at Mt. Sinai Medical School. He was physician-in-waiting to the Royal Family during their visits to New York. He has a private practice in New York City, specializing in the treatment of ME, CFS and fibromyalgia. In addition, he runs an active research program including treatment trials of Ampligen.

In 2011, a generous grant of $1 million from an appreciative patient enabled Dr. Enlander to form the Mt. Sinai ME/CFS Center. He recruited the world renowned geneticist Dr. Eric Shadt as well as pulmonary specialist Dr. Christian Becker to work on a multidisciplinary study. The center is currently studying post-exertional malaise (PEM) and immune system dysfunction. They are looking at digestive markers and doing a full genome study on patients and healthy controls.

Dr. Enlander speaks up

Dr. Enlander is of Irish descent and has worked extensively with conferences and patients in Ireland and the U.K. in order to help the many patients there who are lacking treatment. His deep understanding and compassion for the seriousness of this disease has caused him to repeatedly speak up in behalf of the patients’ benefit. Here are some examples:

In July 2007, Dr. Enlander wrote a letter to the editor of the Belfast Telegraph regarding the research on ME being performed in the City Hospital, Belfast. He pointed out that the focus of the research was on psychiatric parameters.  

“The thought is that if we change the patient mental outlook and induce Gated Exercise Therapy (GET), we will cure the disease. It is distressing, to me and to my patients, those doctors are still following this destructive approach of labeling patients as psychiatric. ..Let me be emphatic, this is a physical disease.” 

On April 2008, Dr. Enlander wrote a letter to the Queen of England.  He was asking the Queen to remove patronage from The Royal Society of Medicine which had formed an alliance with the insurance company, Unum. 

Unum had been known to refuse compensation for ME/CFS patient’s medical expenses, by claiming their condition was psychiatric and should be treated as such. The Royal Society of Medicine had invited members of Unum to speak at a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome conference in which they and others would promote the psychiatric viewpoint of ME/CFS to the exclusion of physical medical research and treatment. 

On March 6, 2012, Dr. Enlander accepted an invitation by the Countess of Mar to appear as a keynote speaker at a meeting on ME/CFS in the House of Lords. He went on to describe ME as a physical complex disease and outlined the state of science accomplished so far in the field. 

In March of last year, in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, Dr. Enlander tackled the published paper. “Fear of movement and avoidance behaviour toward physical activity in chronic-fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia: state of the art and implications for clinical practice.”

He stated, “Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (M.E./CFS) and fibromyalgia patients suffer from relapse when… subjected to over exercise. …The notion that ME/CFS is caused by poor conditioning is no longer widely accepted.” 

Read more HERE.

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