Lecturer Lisa is aiming for the top

Sunderland University Sports science academic Lisa Board practicing her climbing skills in the University's Cityspace Building.

Sunderland University Sports science academic Lisa Board practicing her climbing skills in the University's Cityspace Building.

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ACADEMIC Lisa Board is hoping to reach the peak of her career.

Lisa is one of 38 Sunderland volunteers taking part in the Himalayan Research Expedition 2011.

The senior lecturer in sports and exercise at the University of Sunderland is looking at the effects of altitude acclimatisation on physical performance.

It is hoped her findings could potentially have a wider impact in areas such as cardiovascular and respiratory health.

The team intends to undertake its research as part of an expedition next month to the 6,476m high Mera Peak in a region of Nepal among some of the highest mountains in the world.

Exercise becomes more difficult above 2,000m, and as altitude increases and air pressure decreases, a greater disruption to the oxygen supply of the brain and muscles occurs.

In areas of high altitude such as the Himalayas, mountaineers find it difficult to complete simple physical tasks and have a high risk of developing acute mountain sickness, which can lead to more serious illnesses.

The main aim of the project is to examine the use of artificial acclimatisation on exercise performance through exposure to high altitude in a special chamber in the two weeks leading up to the expedition.

The team will be split into three groups prior to the trek. One group will rest in the altitude chamber, a second will exercise in the chamber and the final group will not receive any pre-altitude exposure and any symptoms of the team’s acute mountain sickness will be monitored throughout trek.

Lisa will be investigating cardiovascular responses to reduced oxygen availability at altitude.

She said: “Findings from the research expedition potentially have a much wider health impact into intermittent sleep hypoxia, cardiovascular and respiratory health and acclimatisation strategies in general.

“Recreational trekking expeditions for charity are becoming increasingly popular and there is still a need to identify simple, easy to monitor measures, which could help identify early warning signs of altitude illness.”

As part of project, each volunteer is seeking sponsors to help fund the research and expedition kit, medical and travel insurance.

For more information visit www.himalayan.org.uk.

Lisa is also taking using the trek to raise money for Cancer Research UK. To make a donation visit www.justgiving.com/Lisa-Board1.

Twitter: @Sunechoschools