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Mountaineering doctors hike medicine to new heights with Xtreme Everest

physiology including illnesses such as fluid on the brain and lungs and acute mountain sickness. The genetics project will track and compare the genetic profile of high altitude natives, lowlanders and summiteers to identify genes that aid survival in extreme altitudes.

A separate initiative called Project Everest will recruit over 1000 volunteers to take part in cardiovascular fitness research at UCL in the run up to the expedition. Participants will undergo Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPEX) which will measure their heart rate and breathing to determine their maximum exercise potential and endurance, which can then be used to tailor fitness training programmes.

CASE director and expedition leader Dr Mike Grocott says: "If you reached the top of Everest without acclimatizing you would be unconscious within two minutes, and death would follow rapidly. Acclimatization has allowed human beings to survive and thrive in the most extreme conditions, but it remains a poorly understood process. Our goal is to study life at the very limit."

The core climbing group of seven, two of whom have yet to be recruited, include cardiovascular geneticist Dr Hugh Montgomery, GP Dr Sundeep Dhillon, high altitude clinician Dr Mike Grocott, clinician Dr Roger McMorrow and diving expert Dr Denny Levett. Space expert Dr Kevin Fong along with Dr Levett will act as medics for the expedition teams.

Dr Dhillon is the only participant who has experience of climbing above 8,000m. The others will test their aptitude along with the equipment in two dry runs to Cho Oyu (8,201m) scheduled for the autumns of 2005 and 2006.

For the big push, the expedition plans to set off in the spring of 2007 before the monsoon season, with a 'window in the weather' of only a few days when conditions are good enough to attempt the summit. Along with the usual climbing dangers of rockfalls and avalanches, the group will be risking medical complications such as high altitu
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Contact: Jenny Gimpel
j.gimpel@ucl.ac.uk
44-207-679-9739
University College London
16-Mar-2005


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