The Gallaugher Bequest Churchill Fellowship to investigate the prevention and treatment of cold injuries - UK, Sweden, Norway, USA

At the time of the award I was the Medical Research Officer at the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart, Tasmania. I had previously spent several years as Medical Officer at various Antarctica research stations. In Antarctica I had developed a deep interest in Cold Injuries – based on both clinical and research experience. As such I was often called upon to provide advice or lectures regarding Cold Injuries to various groups – such as government bodies ( Defence Forces, Search and Rescue organizations); First Aid organizations (St John Ambulance, Red Cross, Surf Life Saving Association); or sections of industry ( esp. those with freezers and cold-rooms).

I resigned from the Australian Antarctic Division in late 2003, but still maintain an active interest in Cold Injuries and still advise a number of Defence and First Aid organizations on this topic.



In April, May and June of 1997 I travelled to a number of overseas hospitals and research institutes that had high reputations or world-class experience in these (admittedly obscure) fields. this lead to a week-long workshop on ”Working in Cold Environments” in Svalbard, northern Norway.
One week at the Norwegian government research facility, Sintef Unimed, in Trondheim, Norway.
One week at the “Cold Centre” in Kiruna, northern Sweden.
4 days at the Cold Weather section of the Environmental Medicine Research Unit in Stockholm, Sweden.
One week at the Cold Research Unit of the United States Army Research Unit of Environmental Medicine, near Boston, USA.
One month at Anchorage Hospital, Alaska, assisting in the treatment of numerous victims of frostbite.


I would say that not a great deal of information entirely new to me emerged as a result of this Travelling Fellowship . However, (and just as importantly) it was reassuring to know that, in a number of areas where I had been unable to find answers, other experts were encountering exactly the same difficulties. This is the sort of thing one can only find by personal contact with others in the field – it rarely gets written up in the literature or discussed at symposia.

One major development that emerged directly from the Fellowship was a formal Cooperative Research Agreement drawn up between my employing agency (the Australian Antarctic Division) and one of the world’s leading Cold Physiology Research laboratories, namely USARIEM. WE have since embarked on joint research in the field of Cold Adaptation.
The information and contacts I gained also helped me to write a chapter on the topic of “Cold Injuries” for an international medical textbook which published in 1999.