On May 8, 2016, members of the Wings for Life research community will line up at the start of the Wings for Life World Run in Cambridge. Dr Jessica Kwok has recruited colleagues from her research lab to join her as she takes part in the race for the third year in a row.
Cambridge is a city close to Jessica’s heart. She worked at the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair alongside the eminent Professor James Fawcett for nine years and since 2012 received funding from Wings for Life UK. Recently, with ongoing support from Wings for Life, Jessica moved to the University of Leeds to set up her our research team, which will maintain its close association with Cambridge.
Jessica travelled to Barcelona to take part in the Wings for Life World Run in 2014. “I love travelling and was so intrigued by the idea behind the race. As both a supporter and a beneficiary of Wings for Life, I was first in line to sign up for the challenge”, Jessica said.
She took part in the Wings for Life World Run in Munich in 2015 and was delighted to hear that Cambridge was the new location for the Wings for Life World Run in the UK:
“I had considered going to Norway for 2016, but when I heard the UK race was in Cambridge – I couldn’t miss it. Maybe I’ll do Norway in 2017 instead!”
Like so many participants in the Wings for Life World Run, Jessica was left inspired by her first experience in Spain. “For me it was seeing the wheelchair participants which motivated me the most. My work is aimed at eliminating the disabilities sustained through spinal cord injury. On race day it was obvious why this is so important - racing in an everyday wheelchair was a really tough task and the runners definitely had an easier job.”
Jessica’s research focuses on how to neutralise the negative impact of inhibitory molecules (known as ‘negative guidance molecules’) which block nerve repair after a spinal cord injury. The long-term goal of her work is to develop a practical treatment to promote regeneration after injury.
Jessica is determined to drive forward her work to make a difference: “It’s vital that we continue to push forward research into spinal cord injuries – treatments which deliver even a small functional gain will drastically improve quality of life.”
Join Jessica on the start line in Cambridge or sign up for an official Wings for Life World Run location near you, or take some time to find out more about Wings for Life and the research it supports.
Pauly Plewa, Niagara Falls, 2015
Kenny Belaey, Ieper, Belgium
Matej Markovič Slovenia
Matjaz Klemencic, Slovenia
Melina Magulas, Norway
Natalie Hilton, participant 2015