University of Leicester geneticist roped into abseiling challenge for charity

iGEM team members Liam Crawford and Amy Evans, with Pat Loft and Dr Richard Badge 

Many people climb new heights for charity, but a University of Leicester geneticist descended, very carefully, down a sheer drop to support his cause.

Dr Richard Badge, Lecturer in Bioinformatics in the Department of Genetics, abseiled from a vertigo-inducing 120 metres with Pat Loft, an ex-technician in the Department, in aid of Parkinson’s UK.

Pat has Parkinson's but nevertheless has supported fundraising for the charity. She convinced Dr Badge to take part in the abseiling event after he performed with the Department band, the Histones, for a charity gig.

They took part in the Northampton Abseiling event, at the Northampton Lift Tower on 12 September organised by Parkinson’s UK. Dr Badge has a fundraising webpage at

Dr Badge said: "Why abseiling? Pat is a fan having done a number of these for charity, and has had some great support from Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre – as someone living with Parkinson’s, training for these events has been key.

Their efforts will help to realise better funding of Parkinson’s research, the second most common chronic neurodegenerative condition in older people, affecting 50,000 -120,000 people in the UK alone. Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s.

Through his association with Parkinson’s UK, Dr Badge has helped a team of students working on a project that may help alleviate the symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions. Parkinson’s UK have supported the student team by enabling the use of the Parkinson’s UK logo in their fundraising for the project.

The International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM) team at the University of Leicester are developing a proposal for a genetically modified bacterium that will help give longer life to muscle tissue, which they are presenting in Boston in September. The students are encouraging public support and have set up a fundraising webpage at

Dr Badge adds: "The fact that the iGEM team have worked hard all year and given up their summer to work on a project that may, in the future, help sufferers is great - showing that everybody young, old (and middle aged!) can work together to make a difference. I was inspired by Pat, who despite her condition is working to raise money for a cure, as well as taking part in clinical trials.

"Also, it is not just something that affects older people - there are early onset forms of Parkinson’s (for example Michael J. Fox was diagnosed at the age of 30) and young people see otherwise healthy parents and grandparents suffering. As we are all living longer, being physically and mentally well in later years is something we all hope for."