Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 64

Submission from John Carroll, University College London


  I write in my capacity as Professor of Physiology and Head of the Physiology Department at University College London in submission to your Select Committee investigation into UK Space Policy.

  The physiology department at University College London hosts the UK's only course in Space Medicine. This undergraduate module is now in its sixth year, is amongst the most popular courses in the final year of undergraduate physiology and is regularly oversubscribed.

  The course is organised by Dr Kevin Fong and Dr Mike Grocott, a pair of clinicians specialising in critical care medicine who have a special interest in extreme environment physiology. Dr Fong and Dr Grocott annually assemble a world-class faculty of speakers from across the globe, including lecturers from NASA and the European Space Agency, providing unique educational opportunities for our undergraduates. Each year we have a number of students who transfer from other universities specifically to have the opportunity to study this module.

  Through this course Fong and Grocott have demonstrated the effectiveness of human space flight as an aid to science teaching at undergraduate level. Regrettably and, despite the success of this course, there appear to be no formal sources of funding available to support the ongoing efforts of this group. This I understand is due in part to the existing Government policy which excludes this country from further participation in the human exploration of space. Given the success of these efforts against a background of limited resources I would like to suggest that it would be worth re-examining the position on human space flight for fear that excellent educational opportunities such as this may be lost in the future.

October 2006

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