Submission from Emma-Jane Smith, Medical
Student, Royal Free and University College Medical School, University
I am a fifth year medical student at University
College London. I hold a BSc (Hons) in Physiology, a degree which
incorporated the unique Space and Extreme Environment Medicine
course run by one of the UK's leading space medicine experts,
Dr Kevin Fong.
The UK currently discourages its medical students
from pursuing an interest in the field of space medicine by the
lack of opportunities in this area. As it is a growing field and
globally supported, it deserves government funding to better its
standing within the European Space Agency and European Community,
to benefit the UK's scientific community, and to prevent the loss
of talented medical graduates to other countries.
1. As a student captured by a fascination
with space medicine and hoping to pursue this interest after I
graduate, I am continually learning just how difficult it is to
break into this field. With the UK supporting few space initiatives
and funding for space medicine being next to nothing, there is
a paucity of openings for students such as myself, who are forced
to look abroad opportunities. Not only is this a loss to the UK
in terms of able and dedicated medical graduatesa growing
problem in several areas of medicine already, and a considerable
financial as well as intellectual drainbut the situation
can only add to the UK's poor standing as an ever-diminishing
member state of the European Space Agency.
2. Space medicine is a field with an ever-increasing
skills base and interest from members of the scientific and health
communities; this was demonstrated by the burgeoning numbers and
scale of the recent UK Space Medicine Conference and its organiser,
the UK Space Biomedicine Group, which at conference officially
became an Association. The event was supported by US space medicine
organisations and strongly supported by professionals from around
the globe. Surely the UK should be proud to host the only dedicated
space medicine conference in the worldand should be supporting
it wholeheartedlyrather than continuing to force out talented
individuals through a lack of opportunities in this country?
3. Space medicine has much to offer the
UK, but it is a new and growing specialty and as such requires,
and deserves, proper financial backing and support from the government.
The scientific community can only benefit as a result of any such
investment from the UK, as can the country's international competitiveness
in this growing sector, which at present stands at next to nothing.
4. It is high time that the UK government
invested more than a token sum in the European Space Agency. A
"National Space Centre" containing little to entertain
those over the age of 10 is a national disgrace compared to the
investment and faith other countries have placed in the exploration
of the universe around us.
Increase funding to the European
Space Agency and to space medicine initiatives in the UK.
Actively support the UK Space
Create opportunities for UK
medical students to undertake an elective in the domain of space
medicine in this country, and work towards such opportunities
at the European Space Agency.