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Penny Baxter is preparing to trek from Bude to an Exeter research building, to fundraise for the University of Exeter's Animal Free Research UK Centre of Excellence (ARC).

Animal Free Research UK supporter is set to trek from Bude to Exeter to raise funds for charity

Animal lover Penny Baxter is preparing to trek from Bude to an Exeter research building, to fundraise for the University of Exeter's Animal Free Research UK Centre of Excellence (ARC).

On Wednesday August 24, Penny Baxter, will run, walk, and crawl the 55 miles from Bude to Exeter's Research, Innovation, Learning, and Development (RILD) building on Barrack Road. The epic feat aims to raise vital funds for an innovative medical research charity that supports and promotes the development of techniques to replace the use of animals in research. 

Penny, who is also a member of the Bude Support Group for the charity Animal Free Research UK, explained her reason for her fundraiser:  “As a pet owner, I am passionate about raising awareness of non-animal testing in medical research. We have dogs, cats and horses in our lives and we believe there are more modern approaches to medical research which provide better data to treat human diseases.

“My husband Mike and I watched the London marathon on the television and thought we would both apply for it but neither of us managed to get a place, so I thought maybe running from Bude to Exeter to tie in the Animal Free Research UK community group and its funded science and scientists- at the university.”

The 43-year-old lives in Cornwall with her husband where they set up a residential home for adults with learning disabilities called ‘Nos Nom’ who have been supporting Penny throughout her journey. Penny said: ‘’Everyone at team Nos Nom helps daily with encouraging words during and after training and gives me time to work on what has been the toughest training schedule.

‘’As a child I hated cross country running and avoided it at all costs. I will not be running the entire course but I’m stubborn, determined and slightly crazy. I’ll also have a good support team around me on the day and many Bude support group members will be there to cheer me on as I arrive at the RILD building to hand over the cheque to Professor Lorna Harries, the Animal Free Research Centre 2.0 centre lead.’’

Lorna Harries, Professor in Molecular Genetics at the University of Exeter Medical School, has been recognised as the best researcher in the country in developing and training researchers in an alternative approach to using animals in laboratory research.

Professor Harries said that the whole  research team is “very grateful” to Penny and the Bude Animal Free Research UK group for all its fundraising efforts, and is “thrilled” to be working together again, especially in light of the newly formed Animal Free Research Centre.

Professor Harries explained that her innovative approach to animal free research is to work in human cell systems. She believes this approach will ultimately yield better results in therapies and treatments that will work in the human body. However, she said: ‘’Working in humanised cell systems isn’t an easy option currently – it takes months to get the right conditions where human cells will behave like they do in the body. Yet once you manage that, they respond much better. Through the Animal Research Centre and with the help of vital fundraisers like Penny, we can start to train a new generation of academics who are excited to develop these approaches and create a step change in reducing the use of animals in research.’’

The University of Exeter’s ARC 2.0 is a new initiative designed to embed animal-free research approaches into research pipelines right from the start. In collaboration with Animal Free Research UK, the research aims to transform medical research and regulation so that there is a clear pathway to develop and deliver effective treatments for human diseases faster and without animals.

The career pathway accompanying the initiative will see postgraduates offered a post-doctoral training opportunity, followed by an independent Fellowship. This progression route is designed to enable scientists to start their own laboratory, committed to replacing animals with human cell research.

Read more about the project of Animal Free Research Centres here: https://www.animalfreeresearchuk.org/

Date: 22 August 2022

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