Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 27

Submission from Dr Jagtar Singh Nijjar

  My name is Dr Jagtar Singh Nijjar and I am a Foundation Year One Doctor based at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, Glasgow. I have had an active interest in Space medicine and human spaceflight from an early age and during my medical career have had the chance to carry out the Aerospace medicine clerkship in NASA, attend three space medicine conferences and become involved in space medicine research in Glasgow University.

  My background includes the Brunton and Robert Fullarton prizes for the most distinguished student to graduate from the University of Glasgow in the academic year 2005-06 as well as graduating joint top of my intercalated BSc yeargroup. I have publications in the field of rheumatology and have an interest in general medical research with a focus on the areas of rheumatology and also space medicine, specifically the effect of space flight on the human body with respect to orthostatic intolerance.

  Following my experience at the Kennedy Space Center, I became more interested in carrying out basic and clinical space medicine research. However the current UK space policy does not support a human programme and by doing so is putting not just researchers such as myself at a disadvantage but the whole of the UK. Countries move forward by discovery, research and innovation. The current policy is stifling the ability of the UK to compete in this scientific field with other countries and also to inspire the next generation of youngsters who will become this country's future scientists, doctors and astronauts.

  By supporting human space flight you as a government would be encouraging novel thought, developing technology and also allowing knowledge transfer between the fields of basic and applied sciences including both engineering and biology. I would urge you to reconsider the UK policy for not supporting human space flight because we are at a crucial point where both clinicians and scientists are showing strong interest and could through support from government elevate the UK's status in terms of space medicine research. In other research fields the UK is a strong competitor compared to the US, for example, and with the support of yourselves I believe you will be able to inspire people such as myself to take this field forward and to become world renowned in this area.

October 2006

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