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  • Christopher Willie
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Mike Stembridge
    Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Ryan Hoiland
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Michael Tymko
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Joshua Tremblay
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Alex Patrician
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Craig Steinback
    University of Alberta
  • Jonathan Moore
  • James Anholm
  • Chris McNeil
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Ali McManus
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
  • Prajan Subedi
  • David MacLeod
    Duke University
  • Shailesh Niroula
  • Philip Ainslie
    University of British Columbia, Okanagan
The University of British Columbia Nepal Expedition took place over several months in the fall of 2016 and was comprised of an international team of 37 researchers. This paper describes the objectives, study characteristics, organization and management of this expedition, and presents novel blood gas data during acclimatization in both lowlanders and Sherpa. An overview and framework for the forthcoming publications is provided. The expedition conducted 17 major studies with two principal goals—to identify physiological differences in: 1) acclimatization; and 2) responses to sustained high-altitude exposure between lowland natives and people of Tibetan descent. We performed observational cohort studies of human responses to progressive hypobaric hypoxia (during ascent), and to sustained exposure to 5050 m over 3 weeks comparing lowlander adults (n = 30) with Sherpa adults (n = 24). Sherpa were tested both with (n = 12) and without (n = 12) descent to Kathmandu. Data collected from lowlander children (n = 30) in Canada were compared with those collected from Sherpa children (n = 57; 3400–3900m). Studies were conducted in Canada (344m) and the following locations in Nepal: Kathmandu (1400m), Namche Bazaar (3440m), Kunde Hospital (3480m), Pheriche (4371m) and the Ev-K2-CNR Research Pyramid Laboratory (5050m). The core studies focused on the mechanisms of cerebral blood flow regulation, the role of iron in cardiopulmonary regulation, pulmonary pressures, intra-ocular pressures, cardiac function, neuromuscular fatigue and function, blood volume regulation, autonomic control, and micro and macro vascular function. A total of 335 study sessions were conducted over three weeks at 5050m. In addition to an overview of this expedition and arterial blood gas data from Sherpa, suggestions for scientists aiming to perform field-based altitude research are also presented. Together, these findings will contribute to our understanding of human acclimatization and adaptation to the stress of residence at high-altitude.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0204660
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2018

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