After training for months, 5 of the original 6 researchers will ride from London to Paris on July 19

Dementia researchers gear up for epic cycle challenge

A group of dedicated and intrepid dementia researchers are gearing up to cycle 350 miles to raise £12,000 for Alzheimer’s Society, to help fund work to gain new insights into dementia.

Despite accidents, injuries and setbacks, five of the original team of six plan to cycle from London to Paris on July 19.

Unfortunately, Dr David Llewellyn will not be among them, after he broke his wrist in a cycling crash on a hill in Wales. He said: “I’m really gutted I can’t be with the team this year, but I’ll be supporting my colleagues in spirit and I’m booked up for London to Paris next year instead.”

Most of the team are not regular cyclists, so training for the 350 mile challenge has proven to be a rough ride for them all.

Dr Talitha Kerrigan said ‘’Having signed up to this challenge almost a year ago I can’t believe how quickly time has gone. Do I feel prepared? – Perhaps physically, after weeks of cycling, but mentally I still feel like the day I first signed up. I’d never been on a road bike before, so the journey up to this week has been a steep learning curve. Initially, at times the road bike was a frightening experience, but after eventually graduating to clip in cycle shoes, I am now one with my bike!

Despite falling off, getting lost in fields of Devon countryside (a few times!), dehydration and spending every moment and weekend on the bike in preparation for this challenge, I have learnt a lot and have enjoyed the experience. Though training has been quite tough, I keep thinking that this is nowhere near the amount of suffering anyone goes through who is affected by dementia.

With less than a week to go I am super excited (and to be honest a little bit terrified) and I can’t wait. I hope that I am able to do our supporters proud and every single one of them will motivate me to keep going until I reach the Eiffel Tower!’’

Dementia is one of the University of Exeter’s key research focus areas, with outstanding research quality and a growing body of internationally-renowned academics.

A message on the team’s fundraising page notes: “The funds we raise will allow Alzheimer's Society to continue supporting the best cutting-edge research into dementia around the UK.

“We are fundraising as a team rather than individuals, so please support us. Any amount will be greatly appreciated and go towards understanding the causes and consequences of this devastating disease.”

You can support the team’s fundraising via their JustGiving page:

All the team has received support from Alzheimer’s Society over recent years for their ground-breaking dementia research.

Dr Francesco Tamagnini is a current Alzheimer's Society research fellow; his work involves investigations of brain circuit malfunction caused by a key dementia-associated pathology called tauopathy.

Dr Talitha Kerrigan's research with stem cells is largely supported by an Alzheimer's Society project grant.

Professor Jonathan Mill and Dr Eilis Hannon are internationally regarded for their work into the genomic factors underpinning dementia risk.

Dr David Llewellyn works on lifestyle risk factors in dementia including the role of Vitamin D, and is also working on improving diagnostic methods.

Meanwhile Professor Andy Randall directs Exeter's Alzheimer's Society supported Doctoral Training Centre which is supported by the Garfield Weston foundation. This is currently supporting the PhD training of eight young dementia researchers of the future, and all of the team are involved in supervising one or more of these students.

Alzheimers Society has recently committed almost £2million to the University of Exeter, as part of its biggest-ever single investment in dementia care research.

The funding will be used for a national collaboration led by Exeter to improve both quality of life for people with dementia, and care in advanced dementia.

To find out more about dementia research at Exeter, visit:

Date: 17 July 2017