UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


Applied Human Physiology

Lead Contact: Professor Monty Mythen (m.mythen@ucl.ac.uk)


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The Applied Human Physiology research group encompasses the Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine (CASE Medicine). 

This is a group of clinicians and scientists with specialist interests and training in the medicine and physiology of extreme environments.  

As part of this activity CASE Medicine run three applied human physiology laboratories (two clinical and one research) where we conduct a variety of physiological measurements.   

The clinical laboratories focus particularly on the use of cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET/CPX) use for the evaluation of patient risk prior to major surgery.

In addition, the group conduct research, teach courses and offer advice in the areas of space, aviation, high altitude, remote, dive and hyperbaric medicine. 

Central to our work is the concept that the study of human systems stretched to breaking point in extreme environments can increase our understanding of critically ill patients. 


  • To learn more about physiological adaptation in critical illness by using the model of extreme environment physiological changes, and thereby improve patient care
  • To engage the public in our research findings through public speaking engagements, internet initiatives, conference organisation and education, in order to improve public understanding of critical illness and extreme environment physiology

Current Projects

  • Altitude: Current projects include ongoing analysis of the data gained on the 2007 Caudwell Xtreme Everest expedition, the use of an acute hypoxia tent to explore short-term hypoxic adaptation, and investigating the association between hypoxic adaptation and a variety of genetic polymorphisms. Further research treks will take place this year (2009) to build on knowledge gained from 2007.  Further major projects are planned for 2010-2012.
  • Space:  CASE has collaborative projects with NASA exploring gene-environment (microgravity) interactions and the development of new medical technologies.
  • Dive and Hyperbaric: Investigating the association between mitochondrial dysfunction and sepsis using hyperbaric hyperoxia. Currently completing a Cochrane Systematic Review of the role of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in necrotising fasciitis. Mixed gas diving and recompression table modelling.