Dr. Shoemaker discusses 2014 CIRS Conference

Dr. Shoemaker discusses 2014 CIRS Conference

By Ritchie Shoemaker, M.D.


How many conferences on water-damaged buildings end up with “feel good” and knowledge leaving together hand in hand? Ours did.


Maybe the videos won’t show the warmth, the caring or the focused attention that attendees and speakers shared at the first Surviving Mold conference held October 7 and 8, 2014 in Salisbury, Md.  Some things are felt but not seen. 


Maybe the video won’t show the out-pouring of positive feelings and mutual desire to extend the research base on chronic inflammatory response syndromes in an ever-expanding series of applications.


But if you had been in Salisbury just a couple of weeks ago, you would have felt what those of us who were there felt.  “Mold illness,” CIRS-WDB, is now invested by its practitioners with the academic credibility it deserves.  No longer are we seeing a peer-reviewed paper published in a credible journal every now and again: we are seeing the birth of the work of the next generation of thinkers and problem solvers who will take this field to untold numbers of illnesses. 


The combination of skill and caring found in our practitioners will be seen on the video.  As we wait for the video production crew to finish up, let me tell you what I saw.


We deliberately did not invite patients, media and large numbers of exhibitors to this two-day event. This conference was for practitioners and team building. Our next conference, to be held in Phoenix in Spring, 2015, will be one you won’t want to miss.


After an introduction by host physician, Ritch Shoemaker, M.D., Dr. Scott McMahon, gave us a clever and informing talk on CIRS in adults and children. Kids aren’t just little adults.  They get sick and sicker fast; the good news is that they get better fast, too.  Scott is working on his pediatric mold paper. He is also lead investigator on NeuroQuant II and will be heading the investigation of food-borne CIRS in Roswell, New Mexico. This study will highlight (for the first time!) genomics as the primary modality of objective measures used to assess injury from possible contaminants in stored foodstuffs.


In a talk worthy of attention from both ILADS and IDSA, Keith Berndtson established his credentials in the CIRS scene as a thought leader on Post Lyme as well as the mechanisms by which Borrelia escape immune detection.  We’ll post a trimmed version of his comments on the SM website within a few days. Readers are advised to pay close attention.  Infectious disease dogmatists might learn something from this talk.


My own presentation took us through the structure of scientific revolutions, as first discussed by Dr. Thomas Kuhn.  The progression of knowledge in CIRS fulfills all of Kuhn’s ideas. The progression of knowledge in CIRS was a focus of this talk, beginning with Pfiesteria and leading all the way up to NeuroQuant.


Jimmy Ryan, PhD, simply blew us all away with his step-by-step introduction to genomics, followed up later in the days with examples of what a physicians can expect to see in a formal genomics report. I can tell you that the language of genomics is ten more steps down the road in terms of complexity. If Suzanne Somers complains about my use of jargon (she does), then just wait until the public is asked to learn a language that most physicians have never seen.


What Dr. Ryan has done is take the complexity of analysis of 50,000,000 data points and developed a fingerprint of mold illness. His research will lead to a commercially available test after his studies are published.  Next year, if you don’t know the genomics of your illness, you won’t know much at all. Don’t get me wrong, differential diagnosis and proteomics (blood test results) are mandatory, but genomics tells us so much more.  If our understanding of complex illnesses now is akin to looking at stars while lying down in your backyard, having genomics is similar to looking at those same stars with a Hubble telescope. A lot of really marginal ideas will disappear quickly when we can show inexpensively what is going on in our genes.


Seriously, get ready.  Tell your physician to request some PAXgene tubes to do the testing now.


In one of the most entertaining and enlightening talks of the day, Dr. Sonia Rapaport finished the morning with her incisive comments on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and sympathetic nervous system.  This talk is quiet yet explosive.  We are duty-bound to know what she knows.


In the afternoon, Scott returned to talk about NeuroQuant.  Now we can see just what inflammation does to brain volumes and the individual structures (nuclei) of the brain. With the next study on this FDA-cleared software program, based on the expanded roster of cases, (1) there likely will no longer be any need to argue about mold illness or not; and indeed, (2) arguments about Post-Lyme will likely fall to nothing in the face of unequivocal data showing the differences between cases and controls; and (3) cases of mold versus Lyme. The days of using unreliable ELISA testing are over.  Now we can define the physiology of illness as shown by proteomics and genomics: we can stop guessing.


A highlight of the inclusive approach to mold illness came from the “California Trio” of Lauri Rossi, Cindy Edwards and IT guru (if only for us for the one day, many thanks!), Ken Kehs.  This intrepid group had traveled through the worst of U.S. airline gridlock to make it on time and present, despite Lauri’s chemical sensitivity.  We hope that Ken will help facilitate presenting the group data on the www.survivingmold website as the group plans for an extensive database on WDB to be used as a tool for diagnosis and treatment of people and buildings.


A number of conference items are now made available to the public. The jump drive that contains 125 exhibits is wide-ranging in scope and importance.  The videos will be available as individual talks and as a whole.


In a time when the Internet is full of so much baloney about mold and Lyme, one can rest assured that the academic basis that confirms facts is alive and well in the practitioners associated with survivingmold.com.


Late note:  Seeing Keith Berndtson become an expert in eating those jumbo Maryland blue crabs was a plus.  And watching Dr. Eric Dorninger watch Keith pick crabs was priceless.  I’m not sure that Dr. Tania Ash from Victoria, Australia would have enjoyed the crabs as much as the rest of us did, but she certainly added weight to the conference. We look forward to our next meeting when Drs. Neil Hirschenbein, Susan Black and Peg DiTulio, NP are all certified.

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