A hard driving contribution to liver research

Risking life and limb to raise money for liver research at the Institute.

An artist's impression of the finish line in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia — with Rupert Robey, Wil d'Avigdor, Ben Bradshaw and Dimitry Peisakhov.

There’s a link between driving across the Mongolian desert and liver research at the Centenary Institute. His name is Wil d’Avigdor—and next week he will exchange his role as mild-mannered Centenary PhD student studying the genetics of the hepatitis C virus for bold adventurer and member of Hard Yak, a four-man Australian taking part in the 2012 Mongol Rally team.

On Saturday 14 July Wil begins the drive of 15,000 km from London to Ulaanbaatar—risking life and limb to raise money for liver research at the Institute.

“Chronic liver damage affects up to one Australian in five. It can lead to liver cancer, one of the fastest growing conditions in the Australian community,” Wil says. “Clearly, I have an interest in hepatitis C, which is one of the causes. There is currently no vaccine for it and it infects up to 300 million people worldwide, including more than 10% of the people of Mongolia!”

It’s not only altruism that drives Wil. He and his three mates, who comprise Hard Yak, decided to enter the rally because they share a common passion for travelling to destinations ‘off the beaten track’. They are looking forward to its upcoming adventure, the challenges that will arise, and the opportunity to visit new countries and meet new people.

It’s no joke, however. The Mongol Rally is unguided and unsupported. Each team is responsible for selecting its own route between London and Ulaanbaatar, and must be self-reliant. No help at all is provided by the organisers.

In the past people have been seriously injured and more. But most come home with a lifetime of tales to tell. You can find out more about the Mongol Rally by clicking here.

Hard Yak’s principal sponsors are:

Call Wil about his trip on 0401 954 935 for the next 36 hours before he takes off in readiness for the big adventure.

After that find him at Skype on williamdavigdor and follow him on twitter @HardYak2012 or on the team’s Facebook page.

And visit www.centenary.org and www.hardyak.org