High Altitude Genetics Research

Since 2011 The Mountain Trust has supported UCL and Oxford University-led groundbreaking genetic research on Hypoxia. We are still recruiting for medical interns to spend from 4-8 weeks working in Nepal on the Hypoxia project. See below for more details.

High altitude areas of Nepal

UCLSanger InstituteRCSIUniversity of Oxford


The study of those who dwell in the thin mountain air can tell us much about how humans survive illness in the lowlands. The support of The Mountain Trust is allowing us to do just this – helping us understand the causes of complications in pregnancy – and how they might be avoided.

Professor Hugh Montgomery. University College, London.

This path-breaking medical genetics research programme was launched in 2011. Professor Montgomery has been working with colleagues at Oxford University, the Royal College of Irish Surgeons, the Wellcome Trust, Sanger Institute and the High Altitude Genetics Consortium on identifying the genes responsible for Hypoxia-resistance.

He discovered one gene responsible but believes there may be several. The Professor has a shortlist of around 100 genes he thinks may be involved. He realised that high altitude communities have been genetically self-selecting in terms of mothers being able to conceive and give birth in thin atmospheres for many generations.


High altitiude research

Lead Field Researcher Sean Cox at Nottingham University (Fellow of the Mountain Trust) needs help acquiring blood samples, birth weights etc from birthing centres at various altitudes in the Everest region and across Nepal. Medical background is preferred but all applicants will be considered.

Together we have established cold chains to bring samples from altitude to Kathmandu and back to the UK. Here they will be analysed and the core group of genes responsible for Hypoxia identified. The intention is to engineer a gene therapy for application worldwide.

The Trust has organised regulatory approvals in Nepal, provided senior medical contacts, advised on ethnic and cultural questions and thus far recruited around forty medical students and professionals to conduct the research.

This programme was rapidly over-subscribed for 2012 and 2013. We anticipate somewhere in the region of 10-15 participants per year on this programme and that it may be completed by 2014/2015. If you are interested in taking part, simply fill in the application form.



The Mountain Trust

20a High Green, Great Shelford,

Cambridge, CB22 5EG, UK

Contact Details

Email: Contact Us

phone: [+44] (0)1223 844204

Charity Registrations

The Mountain Trust UK Charity Registration No. 1112841

Nepal Charity Registration - NGO No. 3442/072/073