Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 19

Submission from Miss Agnieszka Skorko

  I am a medical student in the UK and have recently had the opportunity to get involved in the medical side of space-related activities. This is a fascinating field with the potential to teach a huge amount about human physiology, as much on Earth as in space.

  By taking part in space research the UK would be able to participate in a highly intellectual field which can answer many questions relating to Earth-bound medical situations. Currently there is a small but growing group of individuals in the UK, both practising doctors and students with many ideas for research in the area of human space flight. The fields for research with immediate relevance to clinical practise are numerous—ranging from simple areas such as fluid balance in the body to new technologies such as stem cell research. All such fields have the potential to yield huge amounts of information about health and disease.

  Researchers in other countries are developing new technology for space flight which have the potential to improve clinical practise on Earth. I myself have been part of one such group. Many other investigators in such endeavours are from the UK but the lack of a space programme in this country is driving them abroad. If these individuals had the opportunity to develop their ideas in the UK these innovations could ultimately be utilised in the NHS to ensure a world-class standard of care.

  Currently my only option for involvement in this emerging field is to travel to the USA after graduation when in fact my wish would be to remain in the UK and demonstrate to the world the incredibly high calibre of research that is possible in the UK.

  Although the cost may seem high, I feel the rewards will be much greater for the UK, not only from a medical point of view. What have we achieved in recent years to inspire the future generations to become involved in science? As a child my most memorable experience was of meeting Helen Sharman and hearing her inspiring story. Can we not repeat her extraordinary experience with a UK astronaut being powered into space by technology and knowledge developed here? I believe this goal is within our grasp. Please don't let this opportunity pass our country by.

October 2006

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