A world-renowned expert on public health is taking on an epic cycling challenge in honour of her late brother.

Professor Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow tragically lost her 53-year-old brother Paul when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Losing her brother to heart disease at such an early age inspired Professor Pell, 59, to undertake a coast-to-coast cycle across America to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

She said: “Sadly, we know the distress heart and circulatory diseases can cause.

"My brother Paul suffered two minor strokes and then died suddenly from heart disease, leaving my parents devastated.

"The BHF is funding research to keep families together for longer and that is why their work is so important.”

The Professor of Public Health and Head of the School of Health and Wellbeing will embark on the solo cycling challenge starting May 7.

She will cover 3,500 miles from Los Angeles to Boston on her bike, passing through 15 states and averaging around 85 miles a day.

Glasgow Times: Professor Jill Pell, BHFProfessor Jill Pell, BHF (Image: Professor Jill Pell, BHF)

Professor Pell said: "It will be a huge challenge, especially at 59 years of age, but knowing that the donations will help to save lives will be great motivation to keep pedalling.”

The keen cyclist has been undertaking a gruelling training schedule to prepare for the challenge.

She said: “I’m not going to lie, it has been hard at times."

“When the weather is cold and wet, it can be a real effort to get out there and clock up those training miles.

"But you just have to get your head down and do it and keep telling yourself, it will all be worth it in the end.”

Professor Pell has taken on charity bike rides in the past, raising £20,000 for BHF in 2021 for the charity's 60th birthday 'Tour De Research' alongside BHF-funded researchers.

But nothing compares to the challenge facing her across the pond.

She said: "

"I am a bit worried about cycling through the desert in New Mexico and Arizona as it might be a bit too hot for a Scot!

"But I am looking forward to meeting locals along the route.

"Travelling slowly gives you a chance to really see a country and meet interesting characters, which helps to take your mind off the pedalling.

"I have also ordered some solid ‘espresso shots’ to carry which will hopefully give me a turbo charge if I start flagging.”

Professor Pell has a long-standing interest in research into preventing heart disease and stroke and has been a trustee of the BHF since 2020.

So far, she has already raised over £3,000 to fund vital heart disease research at the BHF.

David McColgan, head of BHF Scotland, said:  “There really is no stopping Jill when she sets her mind to a challenge.

"She’s already clocked up many miles raising money for the BHF, but this is her most ambitious challenge to date.

"We wish her all the very best and of course will be with her in spirit for every one of those three and a half thousand miles.”

To donate to Jill's Coast to Coast challenge, click here. To follow her progress on Instagram, click here.