David Sheffield Bell

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David Sheffield Bell is an American physician who has researched extensively on the clinical aspects of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). He has also conducted evaluations and research in pediatric CFS and written numerous articles about the condition.[1][2]

Bell is retired[3] from a private practice in general medicine in the town of Lyndonville, New York which he had started in 1979.[4] Bell also served as Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the State University of New York at Buffalo, in Buffalo, New York.[5]


Bell is a graduate of Harvard University, class of 1967, with an AB degree in English Literature. He graduated in 1971 from Boston University with an MD degree, and in 1976 completed post-doctoral training in pediatrics including Pediatric Behavior and Developmental Disorders.[6][7]

Work on chronic fatigue syndrome[edit]

Bell's interest in CFS began in 1985 when an apparent cluster outbreak of 216 persons occurred in his rural community in upstate New York. He has written extensively on the condition, including a thirteen-year follow-up study of the children who became ill during the original outbreak.[2][8]

Bell was involved in identifying the outbreak in Lyndonville, New York, of what was known at the time as chronic Epstein-Barr virus (now more commonly referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS).[4] When Bell was interviewed about the outbreak in a 1996 Prime Time Live episode, the reporter described Bell's appeal to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for help with the illness, but Bell says the CDC didn't mention a similar outbreak in Lake Tahoe, which he learned about later. He met with other CFS researchers at a 1987 conference, and joined an investigation with researchers Paul Cheney and Elaine DeFreitas involving a possible retrovirus association with chronic fatigue syndrome.[9] In 1990, the researchers presented evidence they found DNA sequences very similar to a known human retrovirus in some CFS patients, at a conference in Kyoto, Japan.[10][11] Their study was later published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.[12] A reporter on Prime Time Live stated the announcement made headlines all over the world. The CDC first ignored their findings,[9] then later conducted a study and published a paper that refuted the hypothesis.[13]

Bell wrote The Doctor's Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which was published in 1995. The book, which also refers to CFS as "chronic fatigue/immune dysfunction syndrome," or CFIDS, describes Bell's CFIDS disability scale.[14] Various publications have used or proposed Bell's scale which is similar to the Karnofsky scale, for the documentation of severity of symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome.[15][16][17][18]

In the 2000 CFS documentary, I Remember Me, Bell appeared in an interview recounting his experiences during the Lyndonville outbreak.[19][20]

In 2003, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson designated Bell chairperson of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee (CFSAC), a panel of 11 experts that provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services "on the development and implementation of programs to inform the public; health care professionals; and the biomedical, academic, and research communities about advances related to CFS."[1][21][22]

Bell also served as a board member of the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME (IACFS/ME),[23] a professional organization of about 300 members that advocates for the concerns of CFS researchers and clinicians around the world.[24]

Bell has retired from private practice, but in 2011 was still doing research on the cause of the illness of CFS patients in Lyndonville NY.[3]

Bell currently serves on the Open Medicine Foundation Scientific Advisory Board, which is committed to ending myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.[25]

Selected publications[edit]

Case Definitions[edit]

  • Leonard A. Jason; Nicole Porter; Elizabeth Shelleby; David S. Bell; Charles W. Lapp; Kathy Rowe & Kenny De Meirleir (November 2008). "A Case Definition for Children with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". Clinical Medicine: Pediatrics. 2008 (1): 53–57.


  • CFIDS: A Disease of a Thousand Names. D.Pollard, (1988)
  • The Doctor's Guide To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Understanding, Treating, And Living With Cfids, Da Capo Press (January 17, 1995) ISBN 978-0-201-40797-6
  • Curing Fatigue, Berkley (September 1, 1996), ISBN 978-0-425-14983-6
  • A Parent's Guide to Cfids: How to Be an Advocate for Your Child With Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction, Informa HealthCare; (March 8, 1999), ISBN 978-0-7890-0631-8
  • Faces of CFS, MZR Publishing (August 30, 2000), ISBN 0-9707702-0-0
  • Cellular Hypoxia and Neuro-Immune Fatigue, WingSpan Press (July 10, 2007), ISBN 978-1-59594-179-4

Selected Articles[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Secretary Thompson Names New Members To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee". U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. October 1, 2003. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
  2. ^ a b "David S. Bell, M.D." International Association for CFS/ME. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  3. ^ a b Bellini J. (March 5, 2011). "The Puzzle of Chronic Fatigue". Video. WSJ. Retrieved 2011-03-05.
  4. ^ a b Hager, Mary; Joseph, Nadine (November 12, 1990). "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome A Modern Medical Mystery". Newsweek.
  5. ^ Jason L.; et al. (May 2006). "A Pediatric Case Definition for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 13 (2/3): 1–44. CiteSeerX doi:10.1300/J092v13n02_01.
  6. ^ "About David S. Bell". Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  7. ^ "Faculty Biographies". International Association for CFS/ME. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  8. ^ Bell DS, Jordan K, Robinson M (May 2001). "Thirteen-year follow-up of children and adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome". Pediatrics. 107 (5): 994–8. CiteSeerX doi:10.1542/peds.107.5.994. PMID 11331676.
  9. ^ a b Sam Donaldson, Nancy Snyderman, Paul Cheney, David Bell, Elaine DeFreitas, Hillary Johnson, PWC's, Paul Pollard, Mrs. Dailor, Philip Lee (1996-03-27). Sick & Tired (Television). ABC News.
  10. ^ Palca J (14 September 1990). "Does a retrovirus explain fatigue syndrome puzzle?". Science. 249 (4974): 1240–12. doi:10.1126/science.2399461. PMID 2399461.
  11. ^ Altman, Lawrence K. (September 5, 1990). "Virus Found That May Be Linked To a Debilitating Fatigue Ailment". news article. The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
  12. ^ DeFreitas E, Hilliard B, Cheney PR, et al. (April 1991). "Retroviral sequences related to human T-lymphotropic virus type II in patients with chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 88 (7): 2922–6. doi:10.1073/pnas.88.7.2922. PMC 51352. PMID 1672770.
  13. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (March 1993). "Inability of retroviral tests to identify persons with chronic fatigue syndrome, 1992". MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 42 (10): 183, 189–90. PMID 8446093. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
  14. ^ Bell, David (1995). The doctor's guide to chronic fatigue syndrome: understanding, treating, and living with CFIDS. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-0-201-40797-6.
  15. ^ Assessing and Documenting Impairment in CFS (PDF). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  16. ^ ME/CFS Guidelines Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME)/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) Management Guidelines for General Practitioners. South Australian Department of Human Services. 2004. ISBN 978-0-7308-9334-9.
  17. ^ Sarah Myhill; Norman E. Booth; John McLaren-Howard (2009). "Chronic fatigue syndrome and mitochondrial dysfunction" (PDF). Int J Clin Exp Med. 2 (1): 1–16. PMC 2680051. PMID 19436827. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  18. ^ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: From Diagnosis to Management CME/CE (pdf). Medscape, LLC. 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  19. ^ "I Remember Me". Documentary. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  20. ^ "I Remember Me" (PDF). press release. ZEITGEIST FILMS. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  21. ^ Bell, D (2005). "Recognizing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Teens". Internal Medicine News. 38 (9): 15. doi:10.1016/S1097-8690(05)70626-0. Retrieved 2009-02-07.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ "SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION FISCAL YEAR 2008 Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committees" (PDF). U.S. Social Security Administration. February 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  23. ^ "Bulletin of the International Association for CFS/ME". International Association for CFS/ME. Spring 2006. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  24. ^ Friedberg F, Sohl S, Schmeizer B (August 2007). "Publication trends in chronic fatigue syndrome: comparisons with fibromyalgia and fatigue: 1995-2004". J Psychosom Res. 63 (2): 143–6. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.03.003. PMID 17662750.
  25. ^ "Open Medicine Foundation Scientific Advisory Board". Retrieved 2018-07-03.