Cycling scientists to cross the country on charity microscope tour

A team of cycling scientists from Leeds is pedalling across the UK later this month to raise money for a leading human rights charity.

Professor Neil Ranson and Dr Rebecca Thompson with the cryo-electron microscopes at Leeds

Professor Neil Ranson and Dr Rebecca Thompson with the cryo-electron microscopes at Leeds. April 2019

During the week-long, 660-mile tour, the Astbury Biostructure Laboratory team will be visiting every cryo-electron microscope in the country. The powerful microscopes stand at more than three metres tall, and are used to uncover the secrets of the biological molecules that underpin life.

The team is aiming to raise £20,000 for International Justice Mission, a charity working to end modern slavery and protect people from violence in the developing world.

Neil Ranson, Professor of Structural Molecular Biology at Leeds and one of the cycling scientists, said: “We’re grateful to everyone supporting us on this journey.

“This charity does fantastic work using a model that's proven to work: rescuing people from slavery and prosecuting those who exploit them, across the globe.

“This will be a great opportunity for us to step back from the molecular scale and tour the UK, to take a slightly sweaty look at our friends in the cryo-electron microscopy field.”

A core team of four Leeds scientists will cycle the whole route, which starts in Glasgow on Saturday 20 April before heading to Leeds, Oxford, London, Cambridge, Leicester and, finally, Nottingham for the national cryo-electron microscopy Spring Symposium on Monday 29 April.

The cycling scientists will arrive into Leeds at 10am on Tuesday 23 April, meeting colleagues, families and friends for pep talks at our state-of-the-art microscope facilities.

Leeds recently invested in two state-of-the-art Titan Krios cryo-electron microscopes, which allow scientists to view the inner workings of our cells in near-atomic detail.

The microscopes, which operate using a stream of electrons rather than light to display images, represent a game-changing move in the battle to eradicate problems as diverse as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, antibiotic resistance and viral infections, such as influenza.

The team is made up of Professor Neil Ranson, Dr Rebecca Thompson and PhD researchers Mollie Gravett and Ollie Debski-Antoniak.

They will be joined along the way by leading scientists and collaborators from the Universities of Oxford, The Diamond Light Source, London and Cambridge, who are planning to cycle some of the route.

Visit the team’s fundraising page to make a donation.

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