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Award Abstract #0855669

International Research Fellowship Program: Hypoxia-tolerance in the High Flying Bar-headed Goose

Office Of Internatl Science &Engineering
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Initial Amendment Date: June 6, 2009
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Latest Amendment Date: June 6, 2009
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Award Number: 0855669
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Award Instrument: Fellowship
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Program Manager: John Snyder
OISE Office Of Internatl Science &Engineering
O/D Office Of The Director
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Start Date: September 1, 2009
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End Date: August 31, 2011 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $180,615.00
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ARRA Amount: $180,615.00
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Investigator(s): Jessica Meir (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Meir Jessica U

La Jolla, CA 92093-0204
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NSF Program(s): IRFP
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Program Reference Code(s): 0000, 5956, 5977, 7561, OTHR, 6890
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Program Element Code(s): 5956




This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

The International Research Fellowship Program enables U.S. scientists and engineers to conduct nine to twenty-four months of research abroad. The program's awards provide opportunities for joint research, and the use of unique or complementary facilities, expertise and experimental conditions abroad.

This award will support a twenty-four month research fellowship by Dr. Jessica U. Meir to work with Dr. William K. Milsom at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Animals operating in extreme environments often push the envelope of their physiological capacity, and thus represent unique models of physiological adaptation. Species which must maintain oxygen (O2) demands when O2 supply is limited represent ideal models in which to examine the physiological, cellular, and biochemical mechanisms underlying tolerance to hypoxia (low levels of oxygen in the body). The bar-headed goose is able to sustain flight at altitudes approaching 9,000 meters over the summit of Mt. Everest, where oxygen levels are only about 1/5 of that at sea-level. The goals of this project are to explore physiological adaptations in this species, with the overarching purpose of understanding tissue and cellular hypoxia tolerance in an animal that has evolved specifically to maintain performance in hypoxia. Although the bar-headed goose may possess an increased tolerance to hypoxia, it is hypothesized that mechanisms that maintain a sufficient O2 supply by optimizing O2 transport and delivery are the most important factors in this bird?s ability to sustain flight at altitudes where O2 is limited. This project aims to investigate the transport of O2 from the respiratory system to the tissue, with specific focus on delivery to the heart.

This work is also important for the following: 1) the development of a smaller and lighter PO2 recorder/microprocessor that will provide great potential for use on a variety of species and in clinical situations, 2) potential for application of findings to the field of human medicine (hypoxia and ischemia/reperfusion injury ? stroke, heart attack, etc.), 3) the creation of partnerships with international institutions and researchers, and finally, 4) the training and broadening of the skill-set of the young principal investigator. These studies will provide new knowledge into the adaptive mechanisms used by O2 tolerant species such as the bar-headed goose. Linking the natural biology of high altitude flight to clinically relevant models of hypoxic damage will ultimately allow us to identify therapeutic targets to enhance survival in humans after such circumstances as circulatory collapse, ischemic injury and other trauma states. The PI has also been extensively involved in educational and public outreach events, and is eager to continue in this vital role in the future.


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Scott, G.R., Meir, J.U., Hawkes, L.A., Frappell, P.B., Milsom, W.K., Llanos, A.J., Ebensperger, G., Herrera, E.A., Victor Reyes, R., Moraga, F.A., Parer, J.T., Giussani, D.A.. "Point: Counterpoint "High Altitude is / is not for the Birds!"," Journal of Applied Physiology, 2011. 


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