A team of volunteers from The University of Nottingham are once again getting on their bikes to raise money for charity.
This year, the Nottingham Life Cycle 5 challenge will be in support of dementia research, and a team of cyclists, led by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, will undertake a series of challenges, including two gruelling rides – coast to coast across England and through the lochs and glens of Scotland.
The team are aiming to raise £350,000 to help fund the University’s world-leading expertise in MRI scanning to study dementia and other degenerative conditions of the brain.
Nobel prize-winning research
MRI was developed at the University in the 1970s by Sir Peter Mansfield who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work. Professor Peter Morris worked alongside Sir Peter and is now the Director of the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre.
A major grant from the Medical Research Council will provide leading-edge MRI scanning systems which are thousands of times more sensitive than conventional scanning. Life Cycle 5 will enable Professor Morris’s team to be the first in the world to use this technology to understand the different ways in which dementia damages brain cells. This will pave the way for earlier diagnosis and the development of treatment tailored for individual patients.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Greenaway said: “One in three of us have a relative or close friend who is a dementia patient and that is a massive incidence. Presently, dementia attracts about 8 per cent of the funding that goes to cancer research, so there is a big funding gap there. This year through Life Cycle 5 we are trying to raise funds that will allow us to use our Nobel Prize-winning MRI research to underpin ways of understanding better how dementia affects the brain.
“The challenge will involve a series of individual events. It’ll be more a series of sprints than a marathon. That’s not to say it’ll be easy of course because some of these events will be through the hilliest parts of England and Scotland. So please gear up in helping us to meet the Dementia challenge. You can do that signing for our sponsored rides in August, or by supporting a rider who’s undertaking one of the challenges, or you could simply do it by making a donation, and every single donation will make a difference to this cause.”
Professor Peter Morris said: “It was my privilege to work with Sir Peter Mansfield when he first developed MRI in Nottingham. I think we were aware that something special was going on, but none of us understood that this could revolutionise medical diagnosis.
“Recently we were successful in winning a large grant from the MRC to bring revolutionary new imaging systems to the Centre here in Nottingham. What this will allow us to do for the very first time is to individualise treatment of dementia. We hope to do this by looking directly at the enzymes which are deficient in dementia. Later on, we also hope that we will have the possibility to diagnose dementia at an earlier stage allowing more rapid treatment.”
Benjamin Beranek, 30, is a PhD student in Economics at the University and his mum Marcia has been diagnosed with dementia at the age of 62. He said: “The thing that makes me saddest is that one day when I have a child I will have to tell the story of who my mum was because her capabilities are no longer visible. I would be thrilled if people could support the Life Cycle 5 effort. There is no better University in the world to carry out this research.”
This is the fifth successive year that the team have taken on a cycling challenge, and the previous challenges have raised more than £1.5 million in total.
To find out more about this year’s Life Cycle challenge watch the launch video here .
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers, in the top 10 for student experience according to the Times Higher Education and winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the THE Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top one per cent of universities by the QS World University Rankings, and 8th in the UK by research power according to REF 2014.
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