“We talk about what we do not know, because that is the only way we can advance”

Eurac Research has invited leading international experts in altitude medicine and emergency medicine to a one-day gathering in Bolzano on 5 April to explore research opportunities in the extreme climate simulator the terraXcube

At 150 metres altitude under the summit of Mount Everest, three intensive care doctors take their own bloods – in an experiment into the impact of extreme oxygen deprivation in the blood. Thus Chris Imray, Sundeep Dhillon and Daniel Martin prove that a person can survive severe hypoxic conditions under certain circumstances. This is just one example of how research in altitude medicine and emergency medicine in the Alps is characterised by extreme physical conditions. Emergency situations on mountains are difficult to research because the conditions are so challenging to reproduce. However, the findings from altitude medicine have wide implications, for example, they also benefit people with diseases such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and other circulatory diseases.

Along with Imray, Dhillon and Martin, the world’s leading experts in altitude medicine and Alpine emergency medicine are meeting in Bolzano on 5 April. The idea is to discuss questions concerning both research areas and to explore what research opportunities are opened up by the potential of the terraXcube. Unlike at the usual science conferences, where the emphasis is on knowledge transfer, the goal of this day is to facilitate an open and transparent discussion of ideas. Eurac Research’s Institute for Alpine Emergency Medicine organized the gathering and its director, Hermann Brugger explains: “Above all, we want to talk about what we don’t know. Only that brings us any further.” He observed that “one of the problems of high-altitude medical research is that we often only have small samples at our disposal, thus the important processes that occur in the body in cold or low oxygen conditions are poorly understood. This is why the terraXcube is so interesting for the invited experts because it simulates all climatic conditions on earth.”

Image: © Ivo Corra´