Rachel's Big Walk 2022

Rachel Dodd, Associate Faculty Director of Operations for Knowledge Exchange and Department Manager in the Department of Landscape Architecture and the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, is taking on the Big Walk in memory of her cousin Andrew.

Photo of Rachel Dodd smiling

Rachel's cousin Andrew had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and sadly died at the age of eighteen. DMD is an inherited disorder characterised by progressive muscular weakness and Andrew was in a wheelchair for a lot of his short life. 

Despite being unable to run and kick a ball, Rachel says Andrew “was a mad keen football fan, obsessed with his beloved Newcastle United. He had a razor sharp wit and was the apple of my Grandma’s eye.”

The fact I work in an organisation where colleagues are working hard to find solutions to these conditions and many more, is a source of real pride.”

Rachel Dodd

Big Walk participant 2022

Having seen how devastating genetic conditions like DMD can be, for individuals and for families, Rachel immediately agreed to take on the Big Walk after being asked if she would join by a colleague.

In the past, Rachel and her sister have raised money for DMD by running the London Marathon and she says it’s great to be able to fundraise for wider research into genetic illness.

All that’s left to do for Rachel is to lace up her walking boots and get some practice on those hills!

You can help rewrite the future for thousands of people. With your kindness today, you’ll help develop gene therapy treatments. And you'll bring hope to families like Rachel’s.

Make a giftDMD is just one of hundreds of rare genetic diseases that could one day be treated. Although individually uncommon, collectively it’s estimated rare diseases affect up to 10% of the world’s population. Most affect children and many are fatal or severely disabling. 

Gene therapy also has potential to treat genetic forms of common conditions like MND, dementia and hearing loss. The impact of your help today could be huge.

About the appeal

The University of Sheffield community aims to raise £200,000 by 31 July to fund a state-of-the-art Bioreactor. This will help a leading team of scientists to produce gene therapy treatments for a number of genetic diseases. 

With your help, Sheffield’s researchers will be able to engineer bespoke genes to replace or silence faulty ones, in the form of a safe ‘viral vector’. The new Bioreactor will help accelerate their research into clinical trials with patients.

The team behind this pioneering technique has already shown it works. Professor Mimoun Azzouz has helped to turn his research into a successful treatment for babies with another genetic condition: Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Gene therapy really is saving lives and has the potential to do so much more.

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