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HIGH ALTITUDE RESEARCH EXPEDITION: BOLIVIA, 2020

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 in June 2020...

THE ITINERARY

The APEX 6 expedition will begin on 1st July in La Paz (3700m) for an initial acclimatisation period of 3 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 on 10th July. 

 

RESEARCH DURING APEX 6

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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.

CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS AT ALTITUDE
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When you go from bright to dark light conditions you may notice that initially, in the dark, you cannot see well. This improves over time and slowly your vision recovers. This process is called Dark adaptation. The retina requires a huge amount of energy for this and therefore, dark adaptation is highly sensitive to lack of oxygen. This project will investigate how hypoxia experienced at high altitude affects dark adapatation. 

DARK ADAPTATION ON ALTITUDE
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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.

ALTITUDE AND THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
 

THE ORGANISING COMMITTEE

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

 

Sophie is a fifth year medical student at the University of Edinburgh. As well as leading the expedition, Sophie will be undertaking research into the pathophysiology of high-altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE). Her academic interests are in expedition medicine, trauma and surgery. Outside of studying, Sophie is a keen photographer, and loves travelling the globe in search of the perfect shot; Bolivia, Peru, Malaysia and Indonesia to name a few. Having been inspired by the amazing team on Apex 5 to lead her own expedition, she can’t wait for all the hard work to pay off. It’ll be great to be back in the beautiful Bolivian Andes, doing cutting edge research and inspiring a new generation!

Expedition Leader 

SOPHIE HATTERSLEY

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Denisa is a fifth year medical student at the university of Edinburgh, and a lover of travelling, food and salsa dancing. Having taken part in the APEX 5 expedition as a volunteer, Denisa is very enthusiastic to undertake the committee role for APEX 6 as a Logistics Coordinator. Being half-Peruvian and a fluent Spanish speaker, South America is a continent that has always drawn her in.  An adventurer who enjoys challenges, Denisa is looking forward to travelling back into the remote terrains of Bolivia, this time with an exciting aim of conducting research alonside fellow commmitte member Sarah,  on how night vision is affected by altitude.

Logistics Coordinator 

DENISA STRONCEKOVA

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Oliver is a Year 5 medical student and Logistics Coordinator for APEX 6. Alongside Denisa, he will be making sure everything is ready for us flying out, and that the expedition runs safely and smoothly. A keen traveller, Oliver has been on over 75 flights and visited over 20 counties since coming to University (and hopes to reach 35 before graduating!). Through travelling, as well as other areas, he has gained extensive experience in getting people and equipment from A to B. Aside from travelling, Oliver has an active interest in health policy, healthcare management and politics. Oliver is not yet planning to undertake any research on the expedition, instead focussing on organisational aspects, but may yet be open to persuasion!

Logistics Coordinator

OLIVER VICK 

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Erin is currently a fourth year medical student. During this expedition, she will be taking the lead on a projects. The first  investigating the effects of altitude and hypoxia on the menstrual cycle. As a volunteer on APEX5, she thoroughly enjoyed exploring South America and is looking forward to seeing more of the beautiful continent. In her spare time, Erin loves a good book (slowly making her way through some non-fiction these days) as well as walking at home in the Borders and the occasional run with Volunteer Coordinator Sarah!

Funding Coordinator 

ERIN BENNETT 

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Alastair is a fourth year medical student at the University of Edinburgh, who developed a keen interest in expedition medicine as a volunteer on the APEX 5 expedition. Alongside Erin, Alastair has taken on the role of Funding Coordinator. Alastair will also be undertaking a research project investigating sleep at altitude. Outside of medicine, Alastair’s interests lie in sport and spending time away from his beloved bikes will certainly be his greatest challenge! Don’t be surprised to see him hiking up Huayna Potosi in search of signal to check on the latest sporting news!

Funding Coordinator

ALASTAIR WOODHEAD

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Sarah is in her fifth year of medicine at the University of Edinburgh. During the APEX6 expedition she will be working alongside Denisa investigating the effects of altitude on rapid eye movements called saccades. In the committee Sarah is our Volunteer Coordinator and heads up publicity for the expedition. Sarah loves to travel - the previous APEX expedition was her first time in South America and she cannot wait to return to Bolivia and explore. Outside of medicine and APEX Sarah loves music, dancing and trying out new experiences - the latest challenges include a sky dive and a marathon!!! 

Volunteer Coordinator & Publicity

SARAH LEWIS 

VOLUNTEERS

We will be recruiting 35 students from the University of Edinburgh to be volunteers in our research expedition. 

So you want to become a volunteer?

Are you a student at the University of Edinburgh?  Would you like to travel to South America this summer? Then APEX6 is for you. Take a look at our volunteer information pack for information about being a volunteer and how to apply. 

Volunteer information evening: our volunteer information evening will be held on Thursday 17th October. An event on facebook will be created in due course. 

Volunteer information pack: please take a look at the volunteer information pack. It has key information on what it is like to be a volunteer and how to apply.

 

ENDORSEMENTS

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"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."

One of the UK's foremost explorers

Tom Avery

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“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.”

British Mountaineer

Sir Chris Bonington