2007 Study Updates/Photos
November 16th, 2007
Our field season is coming to a close. Josh and Kathy finished capturing data on the rest of our volunteers at South Pole and were off to McMurdo on the 12th and 14th of November and then off to Christchurch on the 16th. We ended up with about 100 new subjects this season with a total recruitment of approximately 240 volunteers who traveled to the South Pole and spent at least 5 days at altitude before returning to McMurdo. Now that the fun is over, the rest of the year will be spent analyzing all the data we have collected. The flight cancellations have left us with slightly lower numbers than anticipated, but we will work through our numbers and determine if a 3rd field season would be necessary. Enclosed are pictures of some of the Winter Overs wearing our equipment and our study volunteers holding the Mayo flag in the South Pole station gym.
November 10th, 2007
Finally, a few flights were able to make it to the South Pole from McMurdo. The C130's waited until a there was a small break in the weather and arrived around midnight with Josh and Kathy, and some of our volunteer subjects. At the same the rest of our group took advantage of the flight and headed back to McMurdo. Kathy and Josh will be busy finishing up the final studies at South Pole, while we begin the process of packing and getting ready to ship samples and equipment back to Mayo. The study has gone well, but the limited turn around on flights has reduced our ability to capture all the data we had hoped for. Due to the busy summer season at South Pole and large projects such as Ice Cube, we need to be out of the station by Nov 15th. We will then head for home with a few days to gather equipment and get organized in Christchurch.
November 8th, 2007
Weather conditions, now mostly at McMurdo continue to hold up flights to South Pole and flights in from Christchurch. They have been intermittently in condition 1 - zero visibility, making it extremely difficult to fly. A couple of C130's took off on Tuesday, but had to boomerang after several attempts at landing at South Pole when visibility unexpectedly deteriorated. These planes had difficulty making it back to McMurdo, and one had to land at the Italian Antarctic Base. Josh and Kathy have "bag dragged" several times, thinking they were on their way south. With the down time, we have started analyzing data, and restudying some of the winter over crew from last season. We have also taken a few pole pictures with some of our equipment sponsors, such as Vivometrics, Nonin and Body Media.
November 5th, 2007
It continues to be a waiting game with weather problems either at South Pole (now visibility) or McMurdo (high winds). Many of the people that stayed through the winter (winterovers) are starting to get restless as they have been waiting a week or longer to leave South Pole and back into civilization. Our study is dependent on the flow of subjects to the South Pole Station, however, our available time here is quickly disappearing. With some luck we will get another 20 people through our protocols before we are manifested on outgoing flights. When we are able to leave is a different story. People from the Today’s show were suppose to come to Pole this last week but had to puruse alternate plans with the weather delays. Some of us (Paul, Andy, Jake and I) met at the Geographical South Pole with signs and flags for a few “official” Today show pictures. Hopefully some of these will make the TV. A few of these pictures are attached. Josh and Kathy continue to wait for their opportunity to get to Pole. While we are in waiting mode, we were able to tour the under the ice tunnels around the South Pole station. Most are a contstant -50 or so year round, and a great spot to store our blood samples while they await transport back to Mayo. Finaly, we honored the "Polies" (South Pole workers) with a picture at the Pole.
October 27, 2007
Still waiting on the weather and competing with other priorities of the summer season at South Pole. While we have some subjects at Pole, the majority continue to gather and wait in McMurdo. If it isn't the cold, it is the visibility. One plane made it out this p.m., but it is primarily carrying cargo rather than personnel. As the weather clears and temperatures rise, there will 40 or more of our subjects heading south. This makes for long days and nights trying to capture all of the data on each subject. If all goes well however, we will get good data on the majority of volunteers.
October 22, 2007
Weather continues to delay flights for our group into South Pole. Currently there are condition 1-2 warnings between McMurdo and South Pole, primarily limiting visibility. Yesterday, while visibility was limited at South Pole, conditions were better in McMurdo and members of our group were able to take a side trip to Cape Evans to examine one of the Scott Huts that has been left pretty much undisturbed for almost 100 years. Along the way there were seals out sunning on the ice, ice bergs frozen in motion from last summer and a group of curious Emperor Penguins who paid us a visit.
October 18, 2007
We are off and rolling again with a great start to another field season. Our new team members, including Josh Mueller, Jake Johnson and Paul Anderson have been fantastic additions to the group with great leadership from Kathy O’Malley and Andy Miller, now the veteran scientists from Mayo in Antarctica. We have all been busy transporting gear, setting up our lab in McMurdo and working closely with Raytheon support personnel. The logistics of getting equipment here is not trivial and we have many people to thank along the way, including Stephen Alexander in Denver, Paddy Douglas and Keith DePew in transport and delivery of cargo, the folks in Crary Lab (Cara Sucher and Paulene Roberts), the support from Medical (Dr. Harry Owens) those heading up transport of our folks from McMurdo to South Pole (Beth Watson and B.K. Grant), and helping with the details of our study needs at South Pole (Al Baker). With the cold at the South Pole and big delays from last season getting to South Pole, they are flying the smaller Bassler planes this season which can handle colder temperatures (-54), however the planes are smaller and there is a continual weighing of priorities as we try to get our folks in early to take advantage of the early flow of people heading to Pole. The Basslers are not pressurized, so they need to fly low over the amazing scenery and expanse of the Antarctic, making the trip quite unique. Along the way the planes will wind their way along some massive rivers of ice as they work their way through the Trans Antarctic Mountains in an attempt to minimize the altitude gains.
McMurdo is getting close to full occupancy and we have recruited about 40, hardy South Pole bound individuals. Among this group, we are closing in on 20 sea level sleep studies along with our many other physiological measurements. Last season, there was almost an epidemic of HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema) over these initial weeks of the season, which typically is a rare occurrence with the carefully run, well oiled system put in place by NSF to get people to the South Pole in a safe and organized manner. Reasons for the increased incidence are unclear, but perhaps lessons can be learned with the data that has been collected by our group from last season and the season that is upon us.
Andy Miller and Paul Anderson hope to be headed to Pole Saturday (Oct 20th) with Jake Johnson soon to follow (within a day or two hopefully). As the study progresses, the rest of us will work our way in starting on the 28th or 29th of October. In all, we will each spend time at the new South Pole Station and hope to study a large percentage of the 250 individuals heading to the southern most place on earth.
ASAP Group Photo
ASAP Group Photo
(Left to Right — Dr. Bruce Johnson, Jake Johnson, Andy Miller, Kathy O’Malley, Paul Anderson, Josh Mueller)
2007 Field Season in Antarctica
Our research group is quickly approaching the 2007 field season in Antarctica (leaving October 8th). We have been busy processing samples, analyzing data, and building a database from our 2006 field season. We accumulated over 2000 samples for biochemical assays and have had tremendous support from the Mayo Clinic National Institutes of Health funded CTSA (Center for Translational Science Activities), CRU (Clinical Research Unit) in performing these assays. We have also been working to compile the sleep data captured using the Vivometrics LifeShirts, and the activity data collected with the BodyMedia arm bands.
We have a new research team this season that includes a blending of last years crew with new members. The group will include Dr. Bruce Johnson (Principal Investigator), Kathy O’Malley (lead study coordinator), Andrew Miller, MS (physiologist), Paul Anderson, MD (Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Health Partners Institute for Medical Education, St. Paul, MN), Jacob Johnson, BS (graduate student), and Joshua Mueller (CTSA, CRU supported research technologist). Maile Ceridon from last field season continues to work on her PhD in the Mayo Clinic Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering and is pursuing studies on the bronchial circulation under various environmental and clinical conditions in our laboratory. Dr. Kenneth Beck, also from last years field season remains actively engaged as a consultant on numerous research projects related to our laboratory and continues to work with Boston Scientific in the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
Our research team will be leaving October 8, 2007 for Christchurch, NZ and then on to McMurdo Station on Ross Island October 12th. The stopover in Christchurch will allow time to organize our equipment and to secure extreme weather gear at the International Antarctic Center. Half our study group will remain in McMurdo setting up a laboratory, while the other half will head to the South Pole Station to set up a second lab on October 19th (weather permitting). We anticipate another productive field season and hope to recruit additional 100-150 subjects to add to our previous season. Updates of the study will be posted.