Golden Globe Yacht Race supports Sheffield’s pioneering neuroscience research

After 27,000 miles and 212 days at sea, the first sailor has crossed the finish line in the gruelling Golden Globe Yacht Race, which is supporting pioneering research conducted at the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN).

The prestigious non-stop, solo circumnavigation round-the-world race is helping to raise vitial funds to further enhance the work conducted at SITraN, which is leading revolutionary research into diseases including dementia, motor neurone disease (MND), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke.

On Tuesday (29 January 2019) French sailor and five-time circumnavigator, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, sailed into Les Sables d’Olonne, more than 300 miles ahead of second place skipper Mark Slats.

The 73-year-old winner, who is considered the father figure of French solo sailing, had to absorb an 18-hour penalty after sustaining mast damage during a storm 1,900 miles west of Cape Horn.

The 2018 Golden Globe Race began from Les Sables d’Olonne on 1 July 2018, with 18 skippers taking part, and was expected to take nine to 10 months to complete. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo non-stop round-the-world race in 1968-69.

SitranProfessor Dame Pamela Shaw, Vice-President of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health at the University of Sheffield, said: “It is such an honour that SITraN was chosen as the charitable cause for support by those organising and participating in the Golden Globe race.

“Our heartfelt thanks to Don McIntyre and Stuart Keane who have supported SITraN over the last 10 years.

“We have been inspired by the courage and resilience of the sailors and we will ensure that their support is put to very good use in the programmes of research within SITraN, which aim to improve the understanding of and devise improved treatments for MND and related neurological conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.”

Founder and Race Chairman, Don McIntyre, has been a supporter of SITraN’s work for almost a decade.

“SITraN is such a prominent centre of excellence for neurological conditions which affect so many people and we are very proud to support their work,” said Don.

“The race is one of the toughest individual challenges and there has been plenty of drama. It is now surreal that the first skipper is crossing the finish line with a SITraN bear onboard!”

SITraN was chosen as this year’s dedicated charity thanks to the tireless work of SITRaN Patron Stuart Keane.

Stuart said: “My son Shaun died of MND after suffering with it for two and a half years.

“SITraN is the world’s first purpose built, dedicated research institute for MND, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It relies on charitable donations to buy very specialised medical equipment – for example the new £11.6 million MRI-PET scanner which is one of only seven in the UK.”

SITraN greatly benefits from charitable donations to buy specialised laboratory equipment for drug screening and research into neurodegeneration, which is now increasingly translated into clinical trials through the partnership with the NIHR Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre, also under the directorship of Professor Dame Pamela Shaw.

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