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Altitude Research Center wins major Pentagon grants
Date:3/28/2011

AURORA (March 28, 2011) As the American military rushes to confront adversaries in some of the world's highest mountain ranges, the Department of Defense is giving $4 million to the Altitude Research Center at the University of Colorado School of Medicine to develop revolutionary ways to combat high altitude sickness in soldiers, sailors and marines.

The Altitude Research Center, the only civilian institution focused on studying the effects of altitude on human physiology, received two grants as part of a Pentagon's increased emphasis on using biology to create better fighting men and women. Specifically, the government wants to find ways to swiftly overcome Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS which often strikes those serving in Afghanistan.

One grant for $2.5 million will allow scientists to create an easy-to-use test kit to determine who is likely to get altitude sickness before they are deployed. A second $1.5 million grant will fund research seeking to find the basic molecular processes behind acclimatization with the hope of discovering new ways to protect armed forces personnel from high altitude illness. At the same time, the study could have major implications for medical research, specifically the role altitude plays in cancer, heart and lung disease.

"We believe the immediate impact of these studies will be to save lives and improve the performance of those fighting at high altitude," said Robert Roach, PhD, director of the Altitude Research Center. "But in the long term, we hope it will lead to new discoveries that can benefit those who suffer from low oxygen states, whether they live and work at high altitude or have heart, lung or other diseases at any altitude."

AMS can cause dizziness, excessive thirst, fatigue, nausea, sleeplessness and swelling of the brain.

"Right now we have no reliable way to predict who will get AMS and who will remain healthy at high altitude," Roach said. "This is a major concer
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Contact: David Kelly
david.kelly@ucdenver.edu
303-315-6374
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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