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Maria Bitner-Glindzicz: Daughter running marathon to help continue bike crash mum’s vital genetic research

PUBLISHED: 17:07 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:36 23 November 2018

Maria Bitner-Glindzicz. Picture: Norrie Disease Foundation

Maria Bitner-Glindzicz. Picture: Norrie Disease Foundation

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The daughter of a molecular geneticist is running the London Marathon to help continue her mum’s vital work, three months on from the bike crash in St John Street that killed her.

The daughter of a molecular geneticist is running the London Marathon to help continue her mum’s vital work, three months on from the bike crash in St John Street that killed her.

Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz, 55, who was also a clinical geneticist, worked at University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

She was at the forefront of genetic research into blindness and deafness, and was a patron of the Norrie Disease Foundation.

“Great Ormond Street gave me a place on the London Marathon for next year,” said Maria’s daughter Helena Miles.

“My worry is some of these rare genetic diseases don’t get much funding, so we want people to know about conditions like Norrie.

“If my mum can’t be here to carry on the work then at least we can make sure the work is carried on in some way.”

Norrie disease is a rare genetic condition that primarily causes blindness but can also result in loss of hearing.

Helena, 27, has never run a marathon before but she is a regular competitor in the 10km Highbury Fields Park Run.

By poignant coincidence, it is currently both Norrie Awareness Week and Road Safety Week.

Helena, a research analyst, added: “Only 30 or so families in the UK have an official diagnosis so it can be quite scary for those suffering from it.

“I look at the difficulties these families have had to face, and their resilience, and it make me think doing something like running a marathon can only be so hard.

“Whatever my family have been through, they are people to look to as shining examples of how to be resilient and graceful in the face of adversity.”

She stressed money from her crowdfunder, which has so far raised more than £1,600, will go directly towards researching rare diseases, rather than into the hospital’s general costs.

The Gazette asked Helena how Islington might be made safer for cyclists.

She said: “Making sure the quality of the roads is up to scratch would be a good start.

“The state of the roads would definitely be one of the easier low hanging fruits to address.

“It would please everybody to have good, safe, smooth surfaced roads.”

“The death of Professor Maria Bitner-Glindzicz is a tragedy,” said Islington’s transport boss Cllr Claudia Webbe.

“We are completely committed to making Islington a safer place for cyclists, including, closing roads, reducing traffic and tackling dangerous junctions – such as our work with the Mayor of London to remove gyratories at Old Street and Highbury Corner – and rebalancing roads in favour of pedestrians and cyclists, as with the new extension to the North South Cycle Superhighway at Farringdon.”

You can donate to Helena’s marathon page here: justgiving.com/fundraising/helena-miles1

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