Altitude Extremes Research

Overview

Mountains take our breath away, not only because of dramatic landscapes, but because every breath of air taken at altitude is thinner. This places considerable strain on the lungs, blood, heart and blood vessels as they work together to satisfy the body’s need for oxygen. The Extremes Research Group has a particular interest in understanding how humans respond when the amount of oxygen in the blood and tissues is reduced, known as hypoxia. Our staff and students engage in wide-ranging investigations using a purpose-built hypoxia chamber in Bangor and during regular expeditions to mountainous areas, such as the European Alps, Himalaya, and South American Andes. So far, our studies have demonstrated important findings about the physiological basis underlying responses to short-term and prolonged hypoxia. It is clear that differences exist in the way that some lowlanders acclimatize, and it is also evident that variations exist in the way that native highland dwellers have adapted over millennia living at altitude. In the future, our research may reveal some mechanisms that explain why some individuals can thrive, and why others cannot. Furthermore, we hope that our work will deliver practical strategies to assist those that live, work and play in thin air.

Key Staff

Dr Jamie Macdonald

Dr Samuel Oliver

Dr Jonathan Moore

PhD Researchers

Gabriella Rosetti

Lydia Simpson

Alex Friend

Collaborators

Prof Paul Mullins

MEDEX

Dr Mike Stembridge (Cardiff Metropolitan University)

Prof Phil Ainslie (University of British Columbia, Okanagon)

Dr Craig Steinback (University of Alberta, Edmonton)

Prof Justin Lawley (University of Innsbruck)