A Geneticist’s Quest To Understand His Son’s Mysterious Disease

Ron Davis

By Tracie White in The Scientist.

Ronald Davis of Stanford University changed his focus to research on ME/CFS, the disease formerly known as chronic fatigue syndrome, in a bid to help his son and others like him.


About 10 years ago, Stanford University genomicist Ronald W. Davis began a new investigation into a mysterious disease that had disabled his son, Whitney Dafoe. A photographer and avid traveller in his 20s, Dafoe could no longer care for himself. He slowly lost the ability to eat and eventually even to speak. He visited doctors for years before he finally found one who could diagnose him with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) based on his strange constellation of symptoms. But with the diagnosis, Dafoe and his family soon learned that little research had been done on the disease, and there was no treatment. Davis decided to do what he could to fill that gap.


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