Byron M. Hyde, M.D.
Dr. Byron Marshall Hyde studied pre-medicine in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto followed by a degree in Chemistry and Nutrition in 1961. His first medical employment was as an immunological research chemist at the Roscoe B. Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine - a leading world laboratory in immunological & transplantation research. He then became Chief Technician in charge of the Electron Microscope Laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Dr. Hyde returned to the University of Ottawa and graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in 1966. After an internship at Montreal’s Hotel Dieu and residency at the St. Justine Paediatric Hospital and the Ottawa Civic Hospital, he opened a family practice in Ottawa that continued until 1984 when he started the full time study of post infectious Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. For five years he had travelled extensively around the world investigating the epidemics of M.E. in the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Iceland and spent the next several years being instructed by previous researchers of these epidemics. Only then did he start to investigate patients who had M.E.
In order to widen resources to investigate these patients, in 1988, he founded the Nightingale Research Foundation, obtaining charitable organization status in the same year. Nightingale is dedicated to explore, understand and treat the patients disabled with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), fibromyalgia-type illnesses and post-immunization injuries. In its early years, Nightingale became a critical vehicle providing technical assistance to other medical practitioners and researchers worldwide and outreach and informative publications to help and encourage thousands of North Americans who were patients or had family members disabled by M.E.
In the 1980s, little physician or patient-based research existed into these poorly understood illnesses. At that time few North American physicians were unaware of the excellent UK diagnostic criteria and clinical definitions of M.E. In the UK, the excellent work of many of the early M.E. physicians had come to a virtual standstill and there was an increasing attack on both the old and new M.E. physicians by many psychiatrists and a general lack of knowledge by the physicians. In Canada, medical research had no appreciable funds to unravel the enigma of these illnesses and government cutbacks only added to the difficulty of finding funds for investigation of M.E. patients. Nevertheless, Dr Hyde, with the help of a dedicated band of volunteers and physicians, set out to change this situation that was causing even greater injury to the already disabled M.E. patients. Thanks to the assistance of many medical practitioners and scientists, investigational research slowly advanced until by 1998, Dr Hyde was able to diagnose the cause of the M.E. type illnesses in 90% of the patients who came to his office for investigation.
As he expanded his knowledge of this group of diseases, he collected critical comparative data for Nightingale’s patient research database. Consequently, in 1990, in collaboration with Dr. Richardson and the Newcastle Research Group in the UK, the funds were raised to organize and convene the First World Symposium on M.E. at Cambridge University in the UK. Dr. Hyde went on to collaborate with over 100 experts to edit and publish in 1992 the 725-page 1992 encyclopaedic textbook, The Clinical and Scientific Basis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, the first comprehensive and authoritative medical reference book on M.E. still widely cited by researchers internationally.
Initially, many physicians were not aware of the fact that many children fall ill with M.E. and like diseases. Dr Hyde still spends considerable time assisting children and students with M.E. In part, due to this interest, Dr. Hyde noted that acute onset M.E patients had similar SPECT brain scan topography to children he had examined with acquired autistic type injury. In 1989, he made this statement to a San Francisco medical symposium that included Dr. Michael Goldberg, a paediatrician from Tarzana, California who had noticed a similar spectrum of brain changes in his autistic children patients. Dr. Goldberg started the Neuro-Immune Dysfunction Syndromes (NIDS) association with Dr. Hyde as one of the founding board members. This joint pioneering work with children afflicted with this youth-robbing illness spectrum established a world-wide friendship network of doctors interested in collaborating in this field of autistic and acquired brain dysfunction research.
Dr Hyde re-grouped Nightingale and focused its efforts in 1995 on collaborative research with like-minded medical practitioners and researchers internationally and on its publishing activities. Today, Nightingale’s priorities are individual patient-based research with total body / brain investigation of M.E. patients as well as the development of a sophisticated database to consolidate these findings for analysis and publication. The uniqueness of his work is in its emphasis on total body mapping of all systems and organs so that he can understand the nature and complexity of the M.E. patients’ illnesses. He is one of the few physicians worldwide whose practice has consisted solely of the investigation of M.E. patients since 1984.
Dr. Hyde is also active in individual case M.E. research, providing advice on legal and medical research issues in order to provide moral and scientific support for the small but growing number of leading edge M.E. diagnostic initiatives. Today, he probably manages more detailed data base information in this area of inquiry than any other researcher in North America as a result of his investigations into acute onset and gradual onset central nervous system dysfunction associated with fatigue and pain syndrome. Depending on adequate funding, it is planned to update this database composed of input from over 3,000 patients, and publish various epidemiological studies of this population as well as other publications and journals of interest to the M.E. community. Recently, this detailed patient investigational work has demonstrated new factors: the high rate of thyroid malignancy that exists in patients who initially fell ill with chronic fatigue syndrome. Thyroid cancer exists in only 1 per 100,000 of the general public, yet 6000 per 100,000 M.E. patients. These results have been accepted for publication in a leading nuclear medicine journal and will be made available on the Nightingale website.
Nightingale has a new database program that has been generously funded by its patients and their families. It is at the heart of a second level of clinical research based on all of Dr Hyde’s investigational patients. For many of these patients, this investigative data covers over 20 years and is proving to be one of the best M.E. longitudinal databases in existence. In addition to the thyroid pathologies noted above, these data have already begun to yield discoveries not found elsewhere.
Dr. Hyde continues to practice medicine in Ottawa. He has published a number of medical, poetry and prose works. He is married to the lovely Lone Due Petersen and is blessed with an extended family of four children, seven grandchildren. Then there is his Lucerner Niederlaufhund, the family dog whose name is Atimus (may he rest in peace), and the small Bengal cat called Maus, previously known as Josephine.