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Institute of Evolutionary Medicine (IEM)

Adaptation to high altitude

Summary of Research

We are interested in the evolution of human adaptation to high altitudes (>2.500 m). In collaboration with colleagues from the University Hospital of Bern we systematically reviewed the pulmonary arterial pressure and oxygen saturation in the blood of people living at high altitude in Andean regions and compared them with people living at low altitudes. We also reviewed the same outcomes in people living at high altitudes and suffering from chronic mountain sickness. Despite several thousand years of adaptation to high altitude, a part of the Andean indigenous people suffers from chronic mountain sickness.

We also investigated haemoglobin levels of Swiss residents at different altitudes of living, between 300 and 1200 m above sea level. We showed that there are differences in haemoglobin levels, although within physiological limits. 


Project leaders





  • Mäxi Foundation