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HIGH ALTITUDE RESEARCH EXPEDITION: BOLIVIA, 2022

APEX was founded by medical students at the University of Edinburgh in 2001. Since then, hundreds of students have taken part in expeditions investigating the effect of altitude and hypoxia on the human body. The latest expedition, APEX 6, will be on the 19th June- 3rd July 2022 after being postponed due to COVID-19...

We are recruiting new student volunteers for 2022.

 

To find out more, please view our information pack and watch the recording of our information evening.

 

Applications open December 20th 2021 and a link will be provided here then.

 

GET INVOLVED

 
 

THE ITINERARY

The APEX 6 expedition will begin on in La Paz (3700m) for an initial acclimatisation period of 5 days, before we ascend to our base on Huyana Potosi (4700m). We will stay on Huyana Potosi for 8 days. 

Data and sample collection will be carried out during the acclimatisation phase in La Paz and throughout our time at Huyana Potosi.

The expedition will conclude on our return to La Paz. 

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RESEARCH DURING APEX 6

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CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS AT ALTITUDE

We are conducting a pioneering project examining the impact of individuals’ body clocks (also known as chronotype) on physiological and clinical outcomes. This addresses a key knowledge gap in wilderness medicine that affects the interpretation of previous high-altitude studies and has potentially contributed to conflicting data on interventions for preventing/treating acute mountain sickness. As well as the relevance of this research to human health in the context of jetlag and hypoxia, this will also set a new standard for chronotype-control in studies carried out in other wilderness environments.

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DARK ADAPTATION AT ALTITUDE

Sight is critical for orientation, movement, and balance and so visual function is clearly essential for the safety and performance of pilots, mountaineers, and athletes training at altitude. Furthermore, as the only visible part of the brain, studying retinal function at altitude provides a unique opportunity to objectively assess the effects of hypoxia on the brain. In future, changes in retinal function may be used as a new variable in field research on altitude sickness, which was not available previously owing to the impractical nature of traditional methods of measuring dark adaptation. This is an exciting field of research, with
the potential to benefit those exposed to hypoxia due to both environment and illness.

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ALTITUDE AND THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE

This project aims to investigate the link between hypoxia inducible factor (hif) 1 alpha and menstrual blood loss, following on from the work of Edinburgh researcher Dr Jackie Maybin. This will involve female participants self-analysing blood volumes using pictograms and analysis of blood samples collected over the course of this research project. This work is especially relevant to women experiencing the very common condition of heavy menstrual bleeding.

 

THE ORGANISING COMMITTEE

Apex 6 will be lead by four Medical Students from the University of Edinburgh. 

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OLIVER VICK 
Expedition Leader

Oliver is a final year medical student and Expedition Leader for APEX 6. Besides making sure everything comes together on time, he will also be overseeing the logistics of the expedition - making sure everything is ready for us flying out, and that the expedition runs safely and smoothly. A keen traveller, Oliver has been to 50 countries, having caught the travel bug as a volunteer on APEX 5. Through travelling, as well as other areas, he has gained extensive experience in getting people and equipment from A to B and leading diverse groups of people. Aside from travelling, Oliver has an active interest in health policy, healthcare management, events management and politics. Oliver is co-leading the arterial blood gas research, but spends most of his time on organisational aspects. 

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ALASTAIR WOODHEAD
Head of Research and Funding

Alastair is a final year medical student at the University of Edinburgh, who developed a keen interest in expedition medicine as a volunteer on the APEX 5 expedition. For APEX6 Alastair is responsible for coordinating  the various research projects and ensuring sufficient funding is in place for the expedition to take place. He will also be undertaking his own research project investigating body clocks in Bolivia. Outside of medicine, Alastair's interests lie in sport and spending time away from his beloved bikes will certainly be his biggest challenge! Don't be surprised  to see him hiking up Huayna Potosi in search of signal to check on the latest sporting news! 

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SUZANNE GREEN
Head of Volunteering and Communications

Suzanne is a 4th year medical student at the University of Edinburgh and is head of volunteers and communications. This will be Suzanne's first APEX and she is very excited to get involved and help in the running of the expedition. She will be helping to assist some of the research projects as well as  coordinating and overseeing the volunteers. Outside of medicine, Suzanne is a keen sportsman and can be found running or playing hockey.  She has only travelled to South America once before to play hockey so would love to go back to explore more of the continent!

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ISLA PETRIE
Head of Events and Sponsorship

Isla is a 4th year medical student at the university of Edinburgh. She is head of fundraising and events for APEX6 and the dark adaptation at altitude project which Sarah and Denisa bravely entrusted her with. She joined the committee this year and is really enjoying it and cannot wait to visit South America for the first time. Outside of studying, Isla loves the outdoors, walking, running and skiing.

 

VOLUNTEERS

APEX6 has recruited a fantastic group of volunteers. Meet the rest of the team!

Ciara McCusker
Ciara McCusker

Ciara is a fourth-year Psychology student and is excited to be a part of the APEX6 expedition. She enjoys reading, running and watching movies. Knowing of South America’s beauty, she can’t wait to see it with her own eyes. She is keen to get involved in the research process, as well as learn more Spanish.

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Martin Rosenzweig
Martin Rosenzweig

Martin is a third year medical student, excited to travel to Bolivia and take part in the Apex expedition. He is very interested in expedition medicine and plans to carry out research alongside medical practice. He is Latin-American and is exited of the opportunity of continuing to explore the continent. Besides medicine, he enjoys football, cycling and reading.

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Anya Tan
Anya Tan

Anya is a third year medical student who enjoys cooking, reading and being in the outdoors. She is looking forward to visiting South America for the first time, and experiencing the culture (and food) while travelling!

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Darcey Smyth
Darcey Smyth

Darcey is a third year medical student intercalating in global health next year. She is really excited to visit South America for the first time and take part in research. In her spare time she loves hockey, running and getting outdoors!

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Cameron Norton
Cameron Norton

Cameron is a second year medical student with a keen interest in trauma and emergency medicine. He is excited for his first (hopefully of many) trip to South America, and to be involved in the exciting APEX 6 research projects. Outside of medicine he enjoys hiking and mountaineering; dislikes writing in the third person.

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Gus Bartlett
Gus Bartlett

Gus is a third-year product design student. Coming from a non-medical background, he is keen to join the expedition and learn about the medical research process. Gus is also a keen surfer and you can find him on the weekend getting barrelled at Pease Bay. Gus is looking forward to exploring South America and sampling some of the Bolivian cuisine.

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Bethan MacDonald
Bethan MacDonald

Bethan is a second year medical student excited to travel to south America for the first time as it has been at the top of her bucket list for a while! Outside of Medicine Bethan loves dance, baking and being up mountains. As a covid fresher she is excited to meet loads of people on the trip

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Becky Lillicrap
Becky Lillicrap

Becky is a fifth-year medical student who has arrived in Edinburgh this year from St Andrews. In her first year at Edinburgh, she has taken up reading, jigsaw making and hot chocolate drinking on distanced walks around the Meadows so can't wait to visit a new continent and finally get to know some fellow Edinburgh students!

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Sam Soete
Sam Soete

Sam is a 5th year medic and is incredibly excited to travel to South America. He loves mountains and can't wait to engage with primary research on the peaks of Bolivia. Beside hiking, he also loves bouldering, cycling and reading.

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Renee de Maat
Renee de Maat

Renée is a second-year medical student at the University of Edinburgh and is looking forward to her first encounter with medical research on APEX 6. Besides medicine, she enjoys playing piano, hockey, and hiking. Having always loved travelling, she is excited to experience South America for the first time and can’t wait to see what it has to offer!

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Kirsty Wilson
Kirsty Wilson

Kirsty is a fourth-year medical student currently intercalating in Bioethics & Law. She loved her first trip to South America so much that she is using APEX 6 as an excuse to go back. She's sure the research will be good too, though...

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Jamie Garcia Fernandez
Jamie Garcia Fernandez

Jaime is a 5th year medical student really interested in research and sports medicine. Currently training for an IronMan, Jaime has become really interested in how the body works under extreme conditions and can’t wait to explore this more at APEX! Outside of medicine, Jaime loves playing the guitar and basketball.

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Jonathan Lang
Jonathan Lang

Jonny is a 2nd year medical student volunteering on Apex 6. He is looking forward to taking part in some fantastic research, discover a continent and improve on his Spanish skills. During his free time, he loves to cook, work in his vegetable garden and skate Bristo Square.

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Sarah Barrie
Sarah Barrie

Sarah is a third year medical student and is looking forward to lots of firsts with APEX6 – first time visiting South America, first time doing research and first time being at high altitude. She loves playing hockey, baking and learning BSL.

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Karolina Futera
Karolina Futera

Karolina is a fourth-year medic, currently intercalating in psychology. She can often be found out on a run, playing volleyball (back when it was allowed), and perfecting her multiple lemon cake recipes. She loves travelling, having visited 31 countries so far, and is very excited to explore Bolivia and take part in research!

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Gemma Woodhead
Gemma Woodhead

Gemma is a fifth-year medic who loves the outdoors and enjoys cycling and running. Having never visited South America before, she is really excited to be a part of APEX6 and looking forward to exploring this part of the world!

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Amy Lussiana
Amy Lussiana

Amy is a fourth year medical student at the University of Edinburgh. She spends most of her free time playing volleyball, dancing bachata or cooking Italian food for potlucks. She’s a keen traveller but APEX 6 will be her first time in South America!

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Ella Crowther
Ella Crowther

Ella is a fourth year medical student (unfortunately that’s not her degree in the picture!). Outside of medicine, she likes riding ponies and playing the violin at a questionable standard. She loves the outdoors and is very excited about getting to explore completely new scenery, having never been to South America before!

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Heather McAdam
Heather McAdam

Hi! I’m Heather, a fifth year medical student intercalating in Global Health Policy. Alongside my studies, I enjoy advocating for better mental health and wellbeing through research, volunteering and running a peer support group. I am also a keen traveller, having travelled through over 50 countries via tuk tuk, slow boat, kayak and more! South America is the only continent I have not visited and I am keen to learn about a new mix of cultures there.

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ENDORSEMENTS

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Tom Avery
One of the UK's foremost explorers

"I am proud to support APEX 6. The Bolivian mountains are amongst the more beautiful in the world, but they are also a real test of human endurance. The work of the APEX6 team will be invaluable in gaining better understanding of the effects of altitude on the human body.  I wish them a safe and successful expedition."

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Sir Chris Bonington
British Mountaineer

“I am delighted to endorse APEX 6. APEX has been hugely successful over the past years, with much exciting research being done into the intricate effects of altitude and hypoxia on the human body. This year, students will take on this challenge once again, with a further aim of collaborating with local Bolivian researchers. The group have my full support, and I wish them all the best on this journey.”

SPONSORSHIP AND GRANTS 

APEX 6 has been fortunate to be sponsored by the following organisations. We thank all of our sponsors for their continued support for our expedition.

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