“The author, John West MD Ph.D., has written this book as a more conversational autobiography. He received his medical degree from Adelaide, Australia, and then spent most of the next 15 years at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital in London. It was during his time in London that he and a group of other researchers made the first description of the uneven regional distribution of blood flow in the lung by using radioactive oxygen-15.
In 1960 and 1961, he was a member of the Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary, who had made the first ascent of Mount Everest seven years earlier. Sir Edmund Hillary had made the first ascent of Mt. Everest. During the course of the expedition, approximately six researchers spent anywhere from one to three months at an elevation of 5,800 meters, researching the physiological effects of being at such a high altitude.
Dr. West spent 1967 and 1968 working at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, because he was interested in gravity’s effects on the lung. While he was there, he submitted a proposal to NASA to measure the pulmonary function of astronauts while they were in space, and NASA ultimately decided to fund his research. Later, in 1981, he organized the American Medical Research Expedition to Everest, which was the expedition that obtained the first measurements of human physiology on the summit of Everest, which is located at an altitude of 8848 meters. Dr. West’s team made the first comprehensive measurements of astronauts’ pulmonary function while they were in space using SpaceLab, which was taken up in the Shuttle. These measurements were made in the 1990s.”