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Eric Liljencrantz Award

June 28, 2019

Eric Liljencrantz Award

The Eric Liljencrantz award was established in memory of CDR Eric Liljencrantz, MC, USN, whose brilliant career in aviation medicine was cut short by his death in an airplane accident in 1942. It is given annually to honor excellence as an educator in aerospace medicine, or basic research into the problems of acceleration, altitude, or weightlessness. Sponsored by Aerospace Medical PLC.

Thomas Smith (center), accepts the Liljencrantz award from Allen Parmet (right), representing Aerospace Medical PLC, and AsMA President Vermeiren (left).
   Thomas Smith, M.B.B.S., DAvMed DPhil FRCA FAsMA, received the 2019 Eric Liljencrantz Award. He was honored for his exceptional achievements over more than 15 years of basic research into the problems of altitude physiology and hypoxia in particular, as well as acceleration and weightlessness. 
   Originally from Adelaide, Australia, he has been based in the UK for the past 15 years. He founded a successful aerospace medicine research group in Oxford following pioneering doctoral studies as a Rhodes Scholar, and has led numerous international research collaborations in altitude/hypoxia physiology, microgravity and acceleration, developing an outstanding record of excellence and innovation in this research. He is also an experienced educator in aerospace medicine and directs a master’s degree program in space physiology. Using a remarkable number of different techniques, Dr.
Smith’s research in hypoxia/altitude physiology has changed our understanding of how cardiopulmonary responses to hypoxia are controlled in humans, and how passengers are affected by cabin hypoxia during air travel, with important implications for both clinical medicine and aeromedical fitness-to-fly. He has also led weightlessness research on parabolic
flights and centrifuge-based acceleration studies, and at AsMA this year he presented unique physiological data uncovering the respiratory challenges associated with upcoming commercial suborbital spaceflights.
   Dr. Smith obtained an M.B.B.S. from the University of Adelaide, Australia, in 2000 and an Australian Certificate of Civil Aviation Medicine from Monash University, Australia, in 2002. He then commenced training in anesthesia. In 2003 he undertook an aerospace medicine rotation at NASA under a Churchill Fellowship before moving to Oxford under a Rhodes Scholarship for his D.Phil. (Ph.D.) in cardiopulmonary physiology, which he earned in 2008. He subsequently established and led the University of Oxford’s aerospace medicine research group. In 2017 he was recruited by King’s College London to lead research in aerospace medicine and physiology and run their internationally renowned master’s degree in Space Physiology and Health, in collaboration with ESA’s European Astronaut Centre.
   Dr. Smith’s research has been published in high-impact journals such as JAMA and features in several textbooks. He has co-authored over 50 papers and conference proceedings (15 in AsMA’s journal) and been a peer reviewer for 15 journals. Dr. Smith is an Academician of the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine, and a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) and the Royal College of Anaesthetists. His honors include the Sir John Vane Award for Innovation in Pulmonary Vascular Research, the Ellingson Award for Published Research from AsMA’s Associate Fellows Group, and the President’s Prize for Research from the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine. He was selected to present on the ‘Ernsting Panel’ at the International Congress of Aviation and Space Medicine in 2015 and was chosen to give the John Lane Oration in Aerospace Medicine at the 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Aviation Medicine Society of New Zealand.