Matilda S
Posted by

Researcher treks in Nepal to beat blood cancer

Matilda S
Posted by
09 Jan 2012

Even our researchers take on epic challenges to help raise the vital funds needed to beat blood cancer. Yesterday I went along to a talk given by one of our researchers, Dr Shaun Thomas from Kings College London about his amazing trek to the mountain tops of Nepal, which raised more than £2,000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

I’ll let Shaun take over and tell you a little more about his adventure as well as why fundraising is so important.

“I’m used to talking about my research into blood cancer, sometimes to hundreds of people but it was a little daunting to give a talk last evening about my recent expedition to climb mountains in Nepal.

"We - my wife, Alison was with me every step of the way - spent over a month in Nepal. We walked about 115 miles through the Himalaya and trekked and climbed up and down over twice the height of Everest(!), which we also saw from a distance - wow!  There were so many highlights, but I will never forget scaling the beautiful snow and ice of the 19,000 ft (5,780m) Amphu Labtsa pass, seeing snow leopard tracks in the fresh snow in the remote Hunku valley and climbing to the top of the 20,305 ft (6,189m) Island Peak.

"It was an amazing trip and we raised over £2,000 for the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research thanks to kind donations from our friends.

"This Summer I plan to climb some harder, but shorter routes in the Alps and I am already starting to plan another expedition for next year, this time to climb over 7,000m.  Last night’s talk was uplifting re-living the wonderful experiences again and sharing my passion for being in the mountains and for climbing.  I hope I inspired everyone who came to sponsor us again in the future and perhaps even to don their boots and head for the mountains themselves!

"So, what do I do when I’m not climbing mountains?  My lab at King’s is focused on curing blood cancers, using techniques in a new area of science called Systems Biology.  There are many thousands of different proteins in every cell, which make it work. To do this, they interact with each other and form complicated networks, which we can think of as the “wiring diagram” of a cell. We are trying to work out this wiring diagram for a normal cell in the blood - and how the wiring diagram goes wrong in blood cancers.

"It’s very challenging as we have to sift through enormous amounts of data and to do this we collaborate with mathematicians and bioinformaticians as well as other cancer researchers at King’s and around the world.  Our aim is to design new therapies for blood cancers by piecing together the wiring diagram, which will enable us to predict which proteins are suitable targets for new therapies.  We are making excellent progress but it’s important to keep investing in research if we are to beat blood cancers.  I hope we can continue to do our bit by climbing more mountains in the future and raising even more money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research."

Dr Shaun Thomas - Reader in Haemo-Oncology, Kings College London

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