UCB scientists embark on 300-mile cycling challenge

To raise money for people with epilepsy in Africa

A team of scientists has set out from Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB’s UK headquarters on a 300-mile journey to raise money for specialist diagnostic equipment for epilepsy patients in Africa. Starting in Slough, Berkshire, they will cycle over three days through Southern England and France and finish in Belgium.

The cycling team is led by David McMillan, Senior Group Leader Protein Expression and includes Liz Jones, Research Scientist; James Snowden, Senior Scientists; Anthony Scott-Tucker, Senior Scientist; Daniel Lightwood, Director Antibody Discovery; Mark Merriman, Principle Scientist; Andrew Payne, Senior Group Leader; Pierre Burssenes, Research Scientist and support van driver, Alex Feresko, Senior Scientist.

The team aims to raise money for diagnostic equipment for epilepsy suffers in poor rural areas and to increase awareness of the illness and its particular impact on under-privileged people.

UCB supports several ongoing projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda in partnership with the Brothers of Charity, an international organisation that works with vulnerable and marginalised communities throughout the world.

So far, UCB’s UK cycling scientists have raised £2,600, which is just £400 short of their £3,000 goal from work colleagues and are on track to more than exceed their target. The money will buy two mobile electroencephalography machines – diagnostic devices that measure electrical currents within the brain – for patients living in rural areas.

The cyclists' final destination is the UCB annual New Medicines Science Congress in Brussels, Belgium, where the keynote speaker is Professor Brian Kobilka, an American physiologist and winner of the 2012 Nobel prize in chemistry.

Part of the UK route will take the team over Boxhill, the summit of the North Downs in Surrey, a route over which world-class cyclists tested their skills during the 2012 Olympic Games.

Lead cyclist David McMillan said: 'The idea for a bike ride started with a conversation we had about patients. Supporting epilepsy patients in the poorer regions of the world is one of UCB’s Corporate Social Responsibility goals so we wanted to raise money for two communities to equip them with these essential diagnostic machines. We also hope to raise awareness of epilepsy and the particular challenges faced by people with the disease in rural Africa.'

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