13 May 2016

In October 2016 our members will trek the Sahara Desert to raise funds for the College’s global health projects and activities in low and middle income countries.

We are delighted to introduce to you #TeamRCPath 

Sahara Desert Trek

  • Professor Dimitris Grammatopoulos

    Professor of Molecular Medicine & Consultant in Clinical Biochemistry

    Professor Dimitris Grammatopoulos is a Professor of Molecular Medicine at Warwick Medical School and Consultant in Clinical Biochemistry at University Hospital in Coventry. His training has taken him to Bristol, Coventry, Newcastle (UK) and John Hopkins (USA). His career has followed two very distinct but interlinked paths, in NHS Clinical Biochemistry and academic biomedical research. Professor Grammatopoulos has been funded by the Wellcome Trust Fellowship program for more than 12 years; his main research interests include feto-maternal interactions in pregnancy and the molecular basis of stress-related disorders, molecular diagnostics and implementing novel precision biomarkers. He has served a variety of academic and clinical leadership roles that have enabled him to develop pathways that capture academic research advances and facilitate translation in routine diagnostic services. His last trekking expedition was when he served in the Greek Army 25 years ago! He will be completing the challenge alongside his son, Mr Kyriakos Grammatopoulos, who will serve as his personal attendant and provide support if and when required.

    You can donate to Dimitris and Kyriakos here

  • Miss Gemma Hooley

    International Administrator

    Miss Hooley joined RCPath in September 2014 as their International Administrator.She is responsible for administering, coordinating and promoting the College’s international projects, initiatives and events. She is an avid baker and was awarded the Golden Wooden Spoon in 2015 for the College’s Great Office Bake Off challenge. She is a creative soul having studied Fine Art in Norwich (UK) and regularly delves in various arts and craft activities, most recently Lomography. Gemma is always up for a challenge, having recently learnt how to snowboard. None of these skills will help her in the desert, but nonetheless she is looking forward to completing this challenge!

    You can sponsor Gemma here

  • Dr Kamarul Jamil

    Consultant Histopathologist

    Dr Jamil is based at St Mary’s Hospital on the (usually sunny) Isle of Wight. He’s a general pathologist with specialist interest in breast pathology, cytology, urology and respiratory pathology. This will be his first fundraising challenge and is looking forward to the adventure. Dr Jamil has always been fascinated by the desert and this will be a good opportunity to fulfil his dream whilst at the same time contributing to a good cause. In his spare time he enjoys travelling, cycling, walking and much to the delight of his colleagues - baking.

    You can sponsor Dr Jamil here

  • Dr Effie Liakopoulou

    Consultant Haematologist & A.Associate Professor Medicine/Haematology

    Dr Effie is a clinical academic haematologist with particular interests in haematological oncology, stem cell transplantation & precision medicine. She has studied in Europe and the US and has worked internationally. Her work has taken her to diverse cultures and vulnerable zones where she has initiated and established partnerships advancing collaboration, education and research. As with many doctors Dr Effie’s career has been devoted to improving health care either via direct patient care, diagnostics, education or by the design and implementation of service and quality improvements at an international level. She therefore finds that global health is a worthwhile cause to mark five decades of her life full of challenging experiences. Haematology nurse, ‘Sister Jodie’ is Dr Effie’s stellar campaign manager. Dr Effie is looking forward completing the challenge with her other half Dr R.Peter. Her trek challenge is dedicated to Georgia, all her patients over the years and especially to her colleague at the University of Washington, Professor Tony Blau: a haematologist and man with great spirit, character and dedication in the global fight against cancer, who is currently undergoing a stem cell transplant himself. 

    You can sponsor Effie here

  • Dr Katie Robertson


    Dr Robertson is based at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Larbert, Scotland. She works as a general pathologist with specialist interests in upper GI/pancreatobiliary pathology, gynaecological pathology as well as cervical cytology. While describing herself as a ‘reluctant’ runner or ‘accidental athlete’, Katie has somehow managed to complete over 50 Parkrun 5Ks, 7 half marathons, several 10Ks, 2 one-mile open water swims, a sprint triathlon and, most recently the 66-mile Etape Loch Ness cycle sportive. It’s not about the distance or time for Katie – it’s about the personal challenge but most importantly the location, the scenery and the camaraderie. She has already visited Morocco on two occasions and hiked in the high Atlas Mountains but the desert will pose a new challenge. The Marathon des Sables will forever be a pipe dream but this trek is ‘within her sights’!

    You can sponsor Katie here

  • Dr Heike Grabsch

    Professor in Gastrointestinal Pathology

    Dr Grabsch started her training in Histopathology in Germany and moved to Leeds (UK) in 2000 where she completed training combining diagnostic histopathology with research activities in GI cancer. After 14 years in the UK, she became a Professor in Gastrointestinal Pathology at the University of Leeds (UK) and then moved back to the continent to become a Professor at the Maastricht University (Netherlands). Outside of work she enjoys outdoor activities like long distance cycling, trekking and in more recent years rowing.
    Her last trekking experience in the desert was in India, where she had the luxury of riding a camel. However this time for the College’s Sahara Desert Challenge Trek, she will be walking for hours in the sand in one of the hottest deserts on our planet, sleeping in a tent at freezing temperatures, with no mobile phone coverage or hot showers with a strong possibility of encountering the desert’s most dangerous animals! This is by far the biggest physical and mental challenge she has ever have taken on. Nevertheless, Dr Grabsch is confident that she will successfully complete this adventure and even enjoy it! 

    You can sponsor Heike here

  • Dr Peter Blackley

    Dr Peter Blacklay will also be completing this challenge alongside his wife, Jayne. 


In the spotlight

Dr Effie Liakopoulou - Consultant Haematologist

Dr Liakopoulou is a Consultant Haematologist with particular interests in haematological oncology, stem cell transplantation and precision medicine. She has studied in Europe, USA and has worked internationally. She has served in medical, scientific and leadership roles and has more recently been involved in organizational development, strategy, change management and policy development in healthcare at a local and international level. Her work has taken her to diverse cultures and vulnerable zones where she has undertaken research, delivered training and established partnerships. 

We asked Effie if she could give us a quick update on her upcoming challenge. 

How did you hear about this challenge? 

Through the RCPath newsletter/e-mail to members and Fellows. 

Why did you sign up for this challenge?

This year I am going to celebrate my 50th birthday. As with many doctors, my career has been devoted to improving healthcare either via direct patient care, diagnostics or by designing, participating and implementing educational, service and quality improvements in the UK and also internationally. Through the American Society of Haematology, I have been a member of Health Volunteers Overseas. Also, I originally come from a country where the implementation of austerity measures has not only adversely affected the economy and morale but also healthcare delivery and quality. It is my wish and vision to work towards avoiding such detrimental effects at a global level.

Also I would like to dedicate this trek to friends and family who stood by me at times of difficulty and especially to a colleague with great spirit and dedication in the global fight against cancer; Professor Tony Blau. A haematologist and transplant surgeon, a great mind and visionary who is always prepared to explore and discover the unknown in science and medicine in order to help his patients. Tony was recently diagnosed with a haematological disorder himself and he's now undergoing his second transplant.

Do you have prior experience of working on an international health project? 

Yes. I have visited and worked in Syria on a project involving the improvement of cancer care provision and education. I designed and submitted to the local government a strategy for the development of palliative care services in the North West of Greece. I’ve also worked in the Middle East developing and implementing new services and education programmes.

Last year I had the opportunity to participate in ‘GlobalTHLON'’ – an initiative of the Permanent Mission of Grenada to the United Nations that discusses issues and proposes measures to globally address “women’s cancer under the belt”. This took place at the UN's headquarters in NYC.

In addition, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Tony Blau and other colleagues to create a non-profit organisation called Partners in Personal Oncology, which has now become the Center for Cancer Innovation at UW Medicine.

Have you taken part in a fundraising challenge before? 

In the past I have run two 10k races and a half marathon for healthcare charities and have organised several fundraising events.

How are the fundraising preparations going? 

Haematology nurse Jodie Nightingill has taken my campaign under her wing! She exudes enthusiasm and positive energy! She is the most brilliant campaign manager and has helped me to organise several fundraising events including: 

  • Dr Effie's World Cake sale at the hospital (12 and 25 May 2016)
  • Dr Effie's Afternoon tea at Marygreen Manor Hotel, Brentwood, Essex (13 August 2016) Tickets are available here
  • BBQ Party in the Garden (TBC)

We have also identified some sponsors who have kindly agreed to donate gifts and would like to thank all those who have contributed so far. 

To support Effie's fundraising efforts, please see her personal sponsorship page here.