My name's Marco (that's me furthest right) and I’m a group leader in the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham.
All the work that scientists like me do in their labs in Birmingham is possible thanks to the support we receive from Bloodwise. That’s why I’m taking part in Birmingham Bikeathon – to support Bloodwise, and raise funds to beat blood cancer while having fun!
The research you're supporting
I work on understanding how the DNA in our body is damaged by a cell’s 'everyday' life.
DNA serves as a stamp for the production of proteins that compose our cells, and is protected inside a special 'vault' called a nucleus. Because of its precious role, and since we have only one copy of it in each cell, DNA isn’t allowed out of the nucleus. Therefore, we have a complex 'photocopier' machine that replicates the information from the DNA – so that we can use these copies as stamps for the production of proteins.
Unfortunately, as with all machines, this photocopier can have problems and get jammed – running the risk of damaging the DNA. My research understands how this photocopier works, how its activity is regulated to avoid damaging the DNA, and what the implications of damaged DNA mean for a person’s health.
As a scientist, I recognise the effort that Bloodwise has put in over the years to put scientists like me in the position to study and understand how we can identify 'weaknesses' in cancer cells and target them specifically in the body.
Teamwork and training
Among the many ways available to support Bloodwise, I decided to fundraise at Bikeathon because I enjoy cycling. I cycle daily, commuting to work to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and I cycle when I have some free time to enjoy the lovely views of the countryside. However, I’ve never ridden the 100 miles I signed up for (or anywhere near to it) and this will be a great challenge for me. But I won’t be on my own as I’ll be joined by my other colleagues in this adventure!
We’re now a group of seven scientists, with four of us training together every Wednesday evening. It’s not easy at the end of a long working day, getting on the bike and pedalling up and down the hills in and around Birmingham. Once we had to find cover under a tree because of some really heavy rain, but at the end we were proud of ourselves because we still managed to carry on and complete our session.
I think we can be confident that we’ll complete our Bikeathon challenge. We probably won’t be the fastest, but you’ll recognise us as the smiley bunch of scientist crossing the finish line!
Before we take on our cycle we’re working hard to fundraise. We’ve all created our JustGiving pages, we’re sharing our progress with everyone on social networks, and we’re informing friends, colleagues and relatives. It’s all part of the challenge, and we’re keen to be as successful as we can.
Keep up the good work!
All through my career my research has been supported by many charities. However, Bloodwise is different, as it works hard to transfer donations directly into supporting cutting edge cancer research.
Cancer research is unfortunately a long process, but the progress that has been possible is thanks to the hard work of Bloodwise – and everyone who supports the charity – and we’re having a visible impact for the patients in our hospitals.
To everyone cycling at this year’s Bikeathon and supporting Bloodwise in other ways I’d like to say: keep up the good work!