Biography: Surgeon Commander Adrian Mellor

Following training within a number of areas of the UK and Australia as a military trainee I started work as consultant cardiothoracic anaesthetist in 2002 at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. My interest in research as a registrar was initially slow to blossom due to busy deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, however sharing a tent in the desert with Colonel Pete Mahoney (at the time he was appointed Professor of Military Anaesthesia) rekindled the old interest. My lifelong passion in mountaineering had combined with an anaesthetic career to generate some puzzling questions - why do we worry about oxygen saturations of 85% in a thoracic case yet tourists going to 3800m on the cable car to the Aiguille d'Midi manage fine at that level? Being military and qualified as an Alpine Mountaineering Instructor opened an interesting world of possibilities of leading valuable military "adventurous training" and generating a number of willing and hypoxic volunteers. So far this has led to field studies involving in excess of 120 subjects, publications on hormonal adaptation to hypoxia and cardiac performance at high altitude. This work is being brought together within an MD at Newcastle University. Along with other military consultants in endocrinology, cardiology and surgery we have established a group with links to Leeds Metropolitan University (who have a highly regarded sports and exercise reputation) and are looking to use high altitude based models to look at platelet function relevant to military trauma casualties.

I now seem to visit mountains with more of an eye to the research potential than climbing potential but it's still a nice place to work! Hopefully this will eventually prove a link between those who respond badly to effects of hypoxia during critical illness and those who respond badly during high altitude expeditions. Our aim is to identify biochemical or hormonal markers of failure to adapt to hypoxia and then translate this into risk assessment for critically ill patients.