Go West: scientist to use pedal power to fundraise for Parkinson’s campaign

All roads lead west for a University of Dundee scientist who is using pedal power to fund research into Parkinson’s disease.
 

Dr Mathieu Soetens, a Postdoctoral Researcher at Dundee’s Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit, will be in the saddle for a fortnight as he attempts to ride to one of Scotland’s most westerly points.
 

From Friday 3 June, he will be pedalling hundreds of miles – as well as hopping on the odd boat – to complete his journey to St Kilda, which he is embarking upon in aid of the Dundee Parkinson’s Research Campaign.
 

It is research that is particularly close to Mathieu’s heart. His work is part of the University’s world-leading research into Parkinson’s, a disabling neurodegenerative illness which has no cure and no way of being slowed down.
 

“Every week, 30 people in Scotland are diagnosed with this cruel disease,” he said.
 

“My research involves the study of enzymes that are involved in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.
 

“The most successful drug to manage Parkinson’s was developed 60 years ago. Progress made here at Dundee regarding our understanding of the disease now gives real hope for developing new drugs with new modes of action, tackling the cause and not the symptoms of the disease by blocking its progression.
 

“The need to research and develop new treatments for Parkinson’s cannot be overstated, and I hope my journey not only helps to raise funds to support our research here, but also raises awareness of Parkinson’s.”
 

Last year, Mathieu rode from Dundee to the UK’s most northerly point, Shetland, raising more than £3000 for the Campaign. He returned to the islands earlier this year as part of his training for this new adventure, which will see him cycle from Dundee to Scotland’s west coast, where, weather permitting, he hopes to catch a boat to take him to St Kilda.
 

However, should the conditions conspire against Mathieu he won’t have his feathers ruffled, as cycling allows him to indulge in another of his passions, birdwatching.
 

“I’m a really keen bird watcher and I use my bike rides as an opportunity to look for rare or unusual birds,” he continued.
 

“Scotland has such a huge variety of birdlife and my journey will take me through some incredible and diverse landscapes. It is an opportunity for me to watch birds in their natural habitat, which is always a wonderful sight, and can be an additional source of motivation if the weather is bad or my legs are getting sore.
 

“It’s also great to have the support of people along the way, as well as those who are donating to the campaign, so I’ll be having fun, whatever the weather.”
 

People wishing to support Mathieu throughout his adventure can make donations online.