In May 2018 an intrepid group of 25 will undertake one of the most gruelling challenges in the UK by cycling the North Coast 500 trail to raise money for the University of Aberdeen's world-class cancer research programme. The challenge will see the group cycle the full 500 miles of the route over nine days while tackling a number of the toughest roads in the UK, including the stunning, dramatic but notorious Bealach na Bà towards Applecross which rises 2,053 feet in just 5.6 miles with gradients of 20% in places.

Please support this courageous group and our cancer research by visiting our Just Giving page.

Among those joining the University's Head of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition, Professor Steve Heys, to take on the challenge are cycling hero and adventurer Mark Beaumont and STV journalist and cancer survivor Anne Smith, along with colleagues from the University, the NHS and a number of friends.

During the challenge the group will hold cancer awareness-raising events in Inverness, Ullapool and Wick. These will showcase how the University intends to transform cancer research in the north of Scotland and give guests the opportunity to learn more about Aberdeen's unique approach to fighting cancer while hearing the stories of survivors who will be supporting the challenge. Our plans to develop a programme for cancer research in Aberdeen will save and improve countless lives. Our scientists are already at the leading edge in a range of different cancer specialisms but we can do so much more. Our £4.5 million fundraising appeal will accelerate vital research to improve how cancer is diagnosed and treated - and critically, how it can be prevented.

The challenge was launched on 10th January at Aberdeen Sports Village and we will follow the group's progress during their preparation and as they take on their trip here in the coming months.

Why we're doing this

For thirty years my work has been to treat patients with cancer and carrying our research into breast cancer, and I see on a daily basis the devastating impact that cancer has on patients and their families.


The problem we are facing is that whilst 1 in 3 of us gets a cancer of some type during our life, this will rise to 1 in 2 of us in only ten years from now.  Whilst we know that the treatment of some cancer types gets batter year by year, form many types of cancer little progress has been made and not everyone survives cancer no matter what type.


So we really have to do more and more and more research in this battle against cancer if we are going to win.


What better time to do that than now, here in the north east of Scotland and together with the new Anchor cancer centre opening we can combine the best treatments with the best research and really make an impact on this terrible and most devastating of diseases.


Remember, that if we exercise (and that includes cycling), keep our weight within healthy limits and reduce our alcohol consumption we can all reduce our risk of getting some of the common types of cancer – we know that we can do these things and that really will reduce our risk.


So, I am now focussed on getting my cycling helmet on and training hard for this ride which will raise awareness of cancer and will help us to raise the funds which will bring these great researches here to the north east of Scotland!


Professor Steve Heys, Head of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition