SBP scientists join race for a cure
Andrew Carley, Ph.D., has a personal motivation for finding a cure for diabetes. As one of the 29 million Americans with diabetes, he became a biomedical researcher to better understand the causes of disease.
For Julio Ayala, Ph.D., a passion for medical research was sparked by his grandmother, a type 1 diabetic, who at age 86 has successfully managed the disease most of her life.
Siobhan Malany, Ph.D., is an avid cyclist who believes so strongly in team efforts that she has enlisted robots to join her research team searching for new drugs to fight disease.
On Sunday, March 13, 2016, these Sanford Burnham Prebys scientists took their interest in biomedical research to the roadways of Central Florida as they joined 1,100 participants in the 2016 Tour de Cure at Lake Nona bicycle ride for diabetes. The twelve-member SBP team collectively pedaled more than 400 miles and raised $9,000 to fight the disease. Participants began the 25, 63, and 100-mile courses in Lake Nona Medical City near SBP and the Center for Metabolic Origins of Disease, the site where researchers study diabetes in hopes of identifying new, more effective therapies.
“It was a fun way to give back and do what I love to do. Cycling has been my commute, my sport and my escape —now it’s a way to contribute,” said Malany, who completed the 100-mile course in five hours. She enjoyed the camaraderie and credited the group with a bit of competitive motivation. “I kept a 21.5 mile per hour pace, which was not something I would have accomplished had I been cycling alone. It was fast and fun being in a pack because you conserve energy by drafting,” added Malany.
Since moving to Lake Nona in December from Chicago, Carley has gotten back into cycling and now bikes to the Institute in Medical City each day. He completed a Century ride to mark the 20th anniversary of the Tour de Cure in 2011 in Chicago and decided to mark the 25th anniversary of the event with a 25 mile ride. “I selected the 25 mile course because it was the maximum length of time my 3-year old daughter would remain content in her bike stroller watching a Toy Story movie. She weighs only 32 pounds and the course was relatively flat so we were able to complete the ride in two hours despite frequent stops,” said Carley.
Team captain Ayala participated in various ADA and JDRF fund raising events while at Vanderbilt University. “While riding my bike to work a few years ago, I saw the first Tour de Cure in Lake Nona and knew that I wanted to participate. We study diseases of metabolism at the Medical City site and a number of faculty, including me, receive ADA-funded grants, so I wanted to get involved,” said Ayala.
Ayala credits the team’s spirit with providing extra motivation to push through the extreme winds encountered on the course. It’s with similar determination that they approach their daily race for the cure in their research labs.