The most obvious and direct application of our research is to help us understand altitude illnesses such as acute mountain sickness, and the rare but rapidly fatal conditions,
high altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral oedema (HACE). But we also believe that our research is an important way to learn about chronic lung disease
and critical illness back home at sea level. These conditions are complicated by a shortage of oxygen, but these patients are very complex and usually suffer from several other
diseases at the same time, so it is virtually impossible to work out which of their problems is caused by lack of oxygen. We can get round this by studying the effects of oxygen
deprivation on otherwise healthy people. Travelling to high altitude is the only practical way to do this. To repeat our experiments at sea level, one would need to seal 129 people
in a low-pressure chamber for 14days each. This would be prohibitively expensive and intolerably uncomfortable to most volunteers.