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Francesca Nicholls, a researcher in the Department of Psychiatry working at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, has completed a gruelling non-stop 100km trek to raise money for the UK’s leading dementia research charity.

Francesca was one of dozens of people taking part in Race the Tide, a 30-hour endurance event along the spectacularly beautiful St Cuthbert’s way in Northumbria. Along the way she raised nearly £1,500 for pioneering dementia research.

Race the Tide, one of many fundraising activities held during World Alzheimer’s Month, covered a route stretching from Melrose in the Scottish Borders to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the Northumberland coast. Francesca and her fellow walkers had 30 hours to complete the 100km challenge before the finishing point was cut off by the incoming tide, walking through the night to reach the finish line.

Francesca was inspired to sign up for the challenge after seeing first-hand the research supported by the charity. As a postdoctoral scientist at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (DDI) – which was set up last year to help fast-track the development of new dementia treatments – she knows only too well how vital funding for dementia research is. Francesca and her team are using skin or hair cells donated by people with Alzheimer’s disease that have been transformed into stem cells – cells which can then be turned into any type of cell in the body. By turning these cells into working nerve cells, the team hope to use these as a model to test potential new treatments that could keep nerve cells healthy and functional.

I love working at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford DDI and seeing the charity’s funding being put to work. They’ve hired some fantastic people and it’s a really exciting atmosphere where everyone is pulling together to apply the best research techniques to this problem. I’m passionate about finding effective treatments for people with dementia, but since working here I’ve become acutely aware of how much funding is needed, and the fact that the money Alzheimer’s Research UK puts in comes from donations. - Francesca Nicholls


“I’m delighted to have raised so much for Alzheimer’s Research UK: people have been really generous, and I’m sure that’s because so many people are affected by dementia. A lot of people I walked with had first-hand experience of dementia, and being able to learn more about the impact of the condition on their families really brought home to me the end goal of the research we’re doing.”

Professor Simon Lovestone, Lead Academic Scientist for the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford DDI, said:

“We’re immensely proud of Francesca for undertaking this challenge, and grateful to all of those who support Alzheimer’s Research UK. The innovative work of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford DDI team and its collaborators is driving the discovery of treatments to improve the lives of people living with dementia; this is turn will contribute to our overall aim of defeating dementia.

To add to Francesca’s fundraising total, visit her fundraising page

Learn more about the work of Alzheimer’s Research UK.


Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.