• 02 September - 04 September 2019
  • University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK

Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits

Register now

Humans are tropical, low altitude, air-breathing mammals. So with only 15 % of our planet not being water, desert, ice or mountain, the majority of Earth represents a hostile place for us. Given this, how do humans manage to visit other worlds, summit the highest mountains, dive into the high pressure underwater world, run marathons in the desert, visit the frozen poles and swim in Arctic waters? How do fish, penguins, frogs and polar bears endure extreme cold, whales dive under cold water for 90 minutes, geese fly over the summit of Everest and camels, lizards and rats live in extreme heat without water? How does an understanding of the physiology underpinning these abilities help patients survive and athletes succeed, inform our understanding of ageing, disease and dysfunction, and inform the search, rescue and treatment of those in peril? The answer to these questions and others can be found at our meeting Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits, at the University of Portsmouth in September 2019.


Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits has been endorsed by the British Association of Sports and Exercise Sciences (BASES). The conference is recognised as meeting required criteria for the award of BASES Continued Professional Development (CPD) credits.

Extreme Environmental Physiology is sponsored by:

Monday 2 September 2019


Session 1: Cold

09:00 Introductions given by chair
09:05 Physiology of aerobic and dexterity performance in the cold
John Castellani, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), US
09:30 Pathophysiology
Chris Imray, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, UK
09:55 Challenges of thermoregulation in polar animals
Dominic McCafferty, University of Glasgow, UK

Refreshment break

Oral communications

Lunch and posters

Session 2: Heat

14:00 Introductions given by chair
14:05 Ultraviolet radiation exposure and human skin health
Larry Kenney, Penn State University, US
14:30 Heat Illness (Pathophysiology)
Dan Roiz de Sa, Institute of Naval Medicine & University of Portsmouth, UK
14:55 Heat tolerance and evaporative cooling capacity in birds and small mammals
Andrew McKechnie, South African National Biodiversity Institute/ University of Pretoria, South Africa

Refreshment break

Oral communications

Drinks reception and poster session

Tuesday 3 September 2019


Session 3: Space

09:00 Introductions given by chair
09:05 Physiology
Igor Mekjavic, Jozef Stefan Institute, Slovenia
09:30 Pathophysiology
Kevin Fong, University College London Hospitals, UK
09:55 Human research in one of the most extreme environments: space
Thu Jennifer Ngo-Anh, European Space Agency, France

Refreshment break

Oral communications

Lunch and posters

Session 4: Altitude

14:00 Introductions given by chair
14:05 The brain at high-altitude; a radical perspective!
Damian Bailey, University of South Wales, UK
14:30 Pathophysiology
Sundeep Dhillon, CASE Medicine, UK
14:55 The unique cardiorespiratory physiology of birds - and why they excel at altitude
Lucy Hawkes, University of Exeter, UK

Refreshment break

Oral communications

Public lecture

Society Dinner

We will be hosting the Society Dinner at the Mary Rose Museum and Boathouse 4. This unique and special Society Dinner will consist of an arrival drink at the Mary Rose Museum with a talk given by museum staff. Guests will then have exclusive access to the museum with staff on hand to answer questions. This will be followed by a three-course meal, wine and soft drinks at nearby Boathouse 4. Tickets for the dinner can be purchased when registering for the conference.

Wednesday 4 September 2019


Session 5: Hyperbaric

09:00 Introductions given by chair
09:05 The cold in cold water diving
Mike Tipton, University of Portsmouth, UK
09:30 Pathophysiology
James Clark, King’s College London, UK
09:55 Cardiorespiratory hypotheses on how deep diving cetaceans avoid the bends
Andreas Fahlman, Oceanografic, Spain

Refreshment break

Oral communications

Lunch and posters

Session 6: Cross adaptation

14:00 Introductions given by chair
14:05 A primer to cross-adaptation and cross-tolerance to novel stressors
Jim Cotter, University of Otago, New Zealand
14:30 The pathophysiology of cross-adaptation between environmental stressors
Oli Gibson, Brunel University London, UK
14:55 Humans and the environment: flipping the coin
Hugh Montgomery, University College London, UK

Refreshment break

Oral communications

End of meeting


Abstract Submission

Abstract submission is now closed.

The Michael J Rennie award for best oral communication by an early career researcher

The Michael J Rennie – Universities of Dundee and Nottingham Award will be presented at the ‘Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits’ topic meeting.

Michael J Rennie contributed immensely to the development of the field of muscle physiology. His lifelong research interest was in amino acid metabolism in skeletal muscle in health, exercise, ageing and disease.

Following his death in 2017, the Universities of Dundee and Nottingham agreed to fund an award for 10 years of £200 for the best oral communication by an Early Career Researcher given at a Topic Meeting.  

WhoAffiliate Members and Undergraduate Members
What£200 prize, plus ceramic medal and certificate for best oral communication by an Early Career Researcher
WhenAt a Topic Meeting

For 2019: Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits, Portsmouth, UK 2  – 4 September 2019

HowEmail meetings@physoc.org to express your interest
Previous recipients:
Nathan Hodson, University of Birmingham, UK
Peggy Sfyri, Hull York Medical School, UK

Poster Competition

There will also be a poster competition at Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits. The winner will receive a prize sponsored by our journal Experimental Physiology.



Registration is now open. Register here.

Before registering please make sure to read our event terms and conditions.

If you are a Member of The Society, please log in with your username and password.

If you are not a Member of The Society, then you will need to create a guest account here and then log in to register. You could reduce your registration fee significantly by becoming a Member of The Society. For more information about membership, please click here or email membership@physoc.org.

If you need any assistance with registration, please email meetings@physoc.org or call +44 (0)20 7269 5710 and ask to speak to the events team.

Early bird registration closes on 31 July 2019.

Registration rates

Membership categoryEarly bird discounted priceFull priceSociety Dinner
Undergraduate or Affiliate Member£90.00£140.00£60.00
Full Member£150.00£200.00

*Registration includes access to the welcome reception in the Spinnaker Tower on 1 September, access to the conference itself, lunches and refreshments.

Applying for a visa

  • Do you need a visa to be able to participate in the meeting?

    To check whether you need a visa to be able to attend, please click here.

    For more detailed information, application forms and guidance notes, please visit the official UK visa website.

    It is recommended that you apply for your visa well in advance (at least 12 weeks before the meeting) as applications for UK visas in certain countries can take longer than expected. Attendees are requested that they book early enough and apply for a visa with sufficient time prior to the conference. The conference organisers cannot be held responsible if delegates do not receive their visas in time, and the cancellation policy will automatically apply. Every effort will be made to support genuine applications.

    The conference organisers are happy to provide you with documentation to support your application which will be sent as a PDF attachment. If you require a hard copy to be sent to you, please include your mailing (postal) address. The Physiological Society will only send via regular post.

    Documentation to support visa applications will only be provided to those attendees who have submitted an abstract which has been accepted for presentation at the conference, registered and paid to attend.

    Please complete the webform below, and attach confirmation of your registration, and submitted abstract.

    Please note that The Society can not influence consular decisions, letters will be distributed within 10 working days - it is the responsibility of the attendee to allow sufficient time for processing.

  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY

  • Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY

  • Your data will be processed in accordance with our Fair Processing Notice.


Key Dates

Registration opens20 December 2018
Abstract submission opens1 June 2019
Abstract submission closes12 July 2019
Abstract decisions released24 July 2019
Travel Grant deadline31 July 2019
Early bird registration deadline31 July 2019
Online registration deadline26 August 2019
Meeting dates2-4 September 2019


The meeting will take place in the Portland Building at the University of Portsmouth. 

Portland Building
University of Portsmouth
Portland Street


The Portland Building is a 10-15 minute walk from Portsmouth and Southsea train station. There are daily direct trains from London Waterloo and London Victoria (2 hours), and regular services from Southampton, Bournemouth, Chichester and Brighton.

The nearest airports to the University of Portsmouth are London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Southampton International. It is possible to travel to the venue by train from each of these airports.

There are daily sailings between Portsmouth and Caen, Le Havre and St Malo in France. There’s also a twice-weekly service to Bilbao in Spain. There are crossings each day to the Isle of Wight too, by hovercraftpassenger catamaran, and passenger/car ferry. A passenger ferry also runs across the harbour to Gosport.

If travelling by car, take the M275 into Portsmouth (signed ‘Portsmouth West’) whether approaching from the east (A3(M)/A27) or the west (M27 Junction 12). Ignore the junctions signed to Southsea and Hilsea.

Regular daily direct coach services run to Portsmouth from London, Bristol, Birmingham, Heathrow and other locations around the country. All these services call at The Hard Interchange by Portsmouth Harbour railway station, which is a 15-minute walk from our Guildhall campus.


BCD Meetings & Events have been appointed as the official accommodation agency to help you book your accommodation for Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits. To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you make your booking early and to check availability and rates please contact BCD M&E on one of the following options:

Book Online
Email – sarah@bcdme.com
Telephone – 01332 285 590 

Affordable university accommodation is also available. The university have set up a live booking form for Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits which is available here. If you have any queries about the university accommodation, please contact the university on 023 9284 4884/reservations@port.ac.uk.


Travel Grants

As part of our aim to ensure physiology is flourishing we provide travel grants to enable physiologists to network and attend conferences. In a rolling, 12-month period the following funding is available: £700 for Members, £500 for Affiliate Members and £100 for Undergraduate Members.

The deadline for applying to travel funding for Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits is 31 July 2019.

Apply here

Funding for Carers

In order to ensure our activities are inclusive, we have established a Carer’s Fund to support members with caring responsibilities, as well as those that need carers. The grants are intended to go towards the cost of the attendee’s care arrangements for any meeting or workshop that we organise. More information about eligibility and scheme criteria can be found here.

Apply here


Exhibition and sponsorship

Why sponsor the Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits conference?

The Extreme Environmental Physiology: Life at the Limits conference will attract leading international scientists, policy makers and practitioners. As a sponsor your company and / or product will be promoted to an influential pool of potential clients. Specifically, the benefits of sponsorship will include the elevation of your brand profile and recognition, networking and interaction with delegates with the intention of developing and maintaining business opportunities, exposing your brand to an informed, interested, and influential audience who constitute your target market.

For further information on sponsorship, including details on sponsorship packages please click here.

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