[Ed. Note: The following was given as the introduction
of Professor Alan Cocchetto as he was being inducted into
the Stueben County (NY) Hall of Fame in April.]
Professor Alan Cocchetto is an exceptionally bright,
industrious, witty and deeply spiritual man. He is also
a very accomplished professional. An engineering professor
at Alfred Universtiy prior to becoming ill with Myalgic
Encephalomyelitis (more commonly and quite inappropriately
known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), Professor Cocchetto
received his engineering degree from Purdue University
and his Masters from Villanova and garnered many professional
awards and citations in his capacity as an engineering
However, the basis for my motion to nominate Alan to
this year's Hall of Fame is his work toward an understanding
of CFIDS/ME and can be summed up in one word, HOPE.
Hope is defined in Webster's Dictionary as "a desire
for something good with at least a slight expectation
of obtaining it or a belief that it is obtainable. It
is the highest degree of well-founded expectation of good.
Can any of us live without hope? Take it away from us
and we wither under the weight of life's burdens. Proverbs
13:12 reminds us that "Hope deferred maketh the heart
sick, but a fulfilled longing becomes the tree of life."
Professor Cocchetto's primary accomplishment has been
his astounding discovery that a swine virus is the primary
cause of CFIDS/ME, MS, GWS and some forms of epilepsy.
His brilliant and pioneering implementation of "evidence-based
research" - a concept that combines engineering principles
of signaling and feedback loops with conventional medical
research is now being employed in medical schools throughout
the country, including Harvard Medical School.
Calling upon his experience doing patent searches to support
himself while in college, Alan was able to discover that
many researchers, in fact, had made key discoveries about
this illness and had, for reasons of personal gain, hidden
their findings...preventing the development of a true
model for the illness that would thereby allow for the
development of an effective treatment.
MS and CFIDS/ME have a long history of unrewarding research
efforts: the cause unknown, treatments ineffective or
non-existent in the case of CFIDS/ME with the end result
being years of suffering and a premature death. Just as
MS was known as the fakers disease at the turn of the
last century, so today's victims of ME/CFIDS are misunderstood
and maligned by not only the physicians that are supposed
to care for them but also family and friends. Many have
lost everything: marriages, jobs, health, financial security,
common respect and, most of all, hope.
I also want to mention the long years of commitment and
dedication required of Alan as he taught himself aspects
of medicine so complex as to be far beyond the comprehension
of the average physician, sacrificing time with the family
he adores, perhaps even sacrificing his own failing health.
But this dedication, this relentless pursuit of the truth
behind an illness where patients are scorned and trivialized,
has paid off.
Under Al's leadership as medical director of the National
CFIDS Foundation and in collaboration with world class
researchers and physicians in the fields of oncology,
infectious disease, immunology and toxicology, a working
model for CFIDS/ME has been constructed, allowing researchers
to finally be able to determine appropriate treatment.
This working model explains how the various 50-some symptoms
of CFIDS/ME are caused by a swine virus named Parainfluenza
Virus-5. This very vicious virus causes a complete collapse
of the immune system over a period of years. The virus
is also oncogenic or cancer-causing, as are most animal
viruses that have crossed over to mankind.
In addition, the victim's cells produce a very potent
neurotoxic lipid which accounts for the many MS-like symptoms
that patients with CFIDS/ME experience. As patients become
more and more toxic and the viral load increases, the
collapse of the immune system allows for other viruses
and bacteria to infect and multiply in the patient's body
in much the same manner as in AIDS.
The ultimate endpoint of the disease is B-cell lymphoma
as a direct result of the virus's ability to alter the
stem cells in the bone marrow. So that after years of
suffering, often remaining bedridden and being told by
physicians that they are depressed and need exercise,
patients succumb to failure of their vital organs, a variety
of cancers or suicide. There has never been a treatment
available to patients despite every indication that top
level health organizations such as the NIH (National Institutes
of Health) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
have known the cause and the true nature of the illness
for a very long time.
In addition to these discoveries, Al has spent many long
hours on the phone with patients from all over the country
and, perhaps, even the world over. He lends an understanding
ear, good advice or a word of encouragement to these suffering
individuals looking for hope--a reasonable expectation
that hints that most will finally get better.
The national foundation where Al serves as medical director
maintains a Memorial List comprised of names of those
who have died as a result of this illness. Life's burdens,
decades without hope, has resulted in one of three persons
on this list having taken their own lives.
When God chose to move in response to the tearful prayers
of the suffering, He put a call on Al's life. And thanks
to Al's selfless response to this call, receiving no compensation
for his efforts, we are now very close to a treatment
Now, for millions of us all around the world, suffering
with this life-sapping disorder, there is hope where once
there was none. How does one thank a man for such a gift,
the gift of hope? I am so very proud to know and to have
nominated my dear friend, Alan Cocchetto, to the 2007
Steuben County Hall of Fame."