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Why I run: Adrian Harwood

6 October 2018

Adrian Harwood is a co-director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute and #TeamCardiff runner. We spoke to him about why he runs, and why you should support neuroscience and mental health research with a donation to #TeamCardiff.

Each #TeamCardiff runner has an individual story behind why they run, but few are as connected to their fundraising cause as Adrian Harwood.

“I study human nerve cells to understand the healthy brain and changes that occur in mental health conditions, work that is challenging, but will help design more effective treatments.”

Adrian moved to Cardiff University 13 years ago to be part of its world leading mental health research team, and is the co-director of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI) – a story that’s fundamental to how he got in to running:

“When I was a young scientist I was always buzzing around the lab doing experiments, spending long hours on my feet. As my own research team has grown, I now spend too long at work sitting at my desk writing or sitting in meetings.”

“On turning 50, I decided that I’d take up running. With the encouragement of my daughter Clare, who is quite a good runner herself, I got going, trained first for the Cardiff 10K and then the Cardiff Half-Marathon. 2018 will be my fifth, and it’s become an old friend.”

#TeamCardiff runners that choose to support the neuroscience and mental health research cause are supporting seed corn funding for early career researchers, under the initiative Future Leaders in Neuroscience and Mental Health Research.

Research into diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia is enhanced by seed corn funding. This enables researchers to purchase equipment, widen the scope of their research and, ultimately, develop better understanding and treatment that benefits patients.

For Adrian, running links not only to his research, but provides welcome thinking time:

“I like to think as I go along, perhaps about how the PhD students are doing, interesting bits of science, or whether I can shave a minute off my next race.”

So how does he fancy his chances, with Cardiff Half Marathon rapidly approaching? Unsurprisingly for a researcher, Adrian sees beyond the finish line to the medical benefits.

“Mo Farrah I’m not, but I don’t do too badly in the middle-aged Professor category. It’s also good for you; it keeps my weight down, my joints are better and it’s also good for your brain – believe me I’ve seen the data.”

You can support neuroscience and mental health research at Cardiff University by donating to Adrian’s JustGiving page for Cardiff Half Marathon.