A chance introduction by UTM Principal Ulrich Krull has led to a promising new partnership between the Gunning Group, UTM staff member Andrew Sedmihradsky and London, Ontario-based charity Jesse’s Journey. Andrew, the global mobility coordinator at UTM’s International Education Centre, and his son, Max, are embarking this June on the third annual Max’s Big Ride, a 600-kilometre cargo bike ride to raise funds and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive genetic disorder affecting one in every 5,000 boys, including Max. Since 2015, Max’s Big Ride has raised funds to support Duchenne research through Jesse’s Journey.
Thanks to a connection orchestrated by Principal Krull, the proceeds from this year’s ride will be directed by Jesse’s Journey to help attract and support a UTM doctoral student. The fellowship recipient will explore the link between the disease and the STAT3 protein, a focal point of the Gunning Group’s research. “By targeting STAT3, we hope to not only prevent the muscle atrophy that characterizes this disease, but to reverse its effects through the replacement of lost muscle tissue,” explains Gunning Group research associate Diana Kraskouskaya.