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Associate Professor Sarah De Val will lead a team of researchers as they take on the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) London to Brighton Bike Ride.

L-R: Susann Bruche, Sarah De Val, Svanhild Nornes, Gillian Douglas and Helena Rodriguez-Caro

Seven Oxford researchers led by BHF Senior Fellow Associate Professor Sarah De Val will be using pedal power to raise money for their research advocating for better cardiovascular health this June. 

Associate Professor De Val is joined by three postdoctoral research scientists from her lab, Dr Susann Bruche, Dr Svanhild Nornes, and Dr Helena Rodríguez Caro, together with postdoctoral research scientist Dr Jacinta Kalisch Smith from the Smart lab, DPhil student Helen Potts from the Mommersteeg and Smart labs, and Prof De Val's collaborator Associate Professor Gillian Douglas from the Radcliffe Department of Medicine.

Earlier this year, Prof De Val’s research project, which looks at genetic enhancers in blood and lymphatic vessels, was selected by the BHF as one of the cutting-edge research projects into regenerative medicine that will receive funding from the 2022 TCS London Marathon. As the charity of the year for the TCS London Marathon, the BHF is aiming to raise £3 million for research into regenerative medicine, that could lead to improved new treatments for heart failure. 

Prof De Val’s project hopes to understand more about the different types of cells that are involved in creating new vessels in adult human hearts. Ultimately, her goal is to build a comprehensive picture of how different molecules work together in the heart to activate either blood or lymphatic vessel growth.  This could help to build a better picture of how different cells work together in the heart and lead to new treatments that supports recovery after a heart attack and reduces the damage they cause to the heart muscle.  

Prof De Val said: “I’m delighted that the London to Brighton Bike Ride is back and I’m looking forward to what is a fantastic event hosted by the British Heart Foundation. We want to give back for some of the tremendous funding support that I and my fellow researchers at the new Institute of Developmental & Regenerative Medicine have received from the BHF over many years.

“The De Val Group studies the regulation of blood and lymphatic vessel development, and how the regulatory pathways respond during injury, such as a heart attack. In particular, the Group focuses on enhancers, the on off switches of genes, in order to identify which proteins, activate the correct pattern of blood and lymphatic vessel growth during tissue repair."

The researchers will join around 14,000 other cyclists of all abilities for the BHF’s London to Brighton Bike Ride on Sunday 19 June 2022. The event will see participants cycle the 54-mile route starting at Clapham Common, before riding through the beautiful Surrey and Sussex countryside and crossing the finishing line on Brighton’s famous seafront.  

Dr Helena Rodriguez Caro said: “I am so excited to participate in the London to Brighton Bike Ride. I rarely cycle long-distances, and 54 miles is going to be a thrilling challenge for a brilliant cause. What better way to show support for The British Heart Foundation and its mission than by participating in an activity good for the cardiovascular health.

“The team is very keen on raising funds for the BHF and is actively crowdfunding. We are busy preparing and sharing tips between us. Learning together and getting into our training. We are taking spinning lessons and doing longer bike-rides, such high motivation!”

The 2022 London to Brighton Bike Ride will mark the 45th anniversary of the event and will return after a two-year hiatus due to restrictions put in place for large scale events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The BHF hopes to raise more than £2.8 million from the event, helping to fund lifesaving research projects, including the work by DPAG's researchers at the IDRM.

To support the team and donate to the British Heart Foundation, visit the Teams' pages on JustGiving:

Sarah's BHF London to Brighton Bike Ride Sponsorship page!

Helena, Svanhild and Helena's page: "Advocating for better cardiovascular health"

To sign up and take part in the 2022 BHF London to Brighton Bike Ride visit the BHF L2B 2022 website.


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