Optimization of Performance and Health Program
One of the major interests of the Human Integrative and Environmental Physiology Laboratory is establishing criteria to help assess and improve performance and well-being. We focus on athletic populations and people in high-stress or extreme environments that demand optimal performance.
We have several studies aimed at optimizing performance in extreme conditions and improving health throughout the life span.
U.S. Air Force pilot health support
Studies in our pilot health support project explore changes in cognitive function under various conditions, such as isometric exercise, hypobaria, low oxygen and increased carbon dioxide.
Study participants are monitored for multiple physiologic metrics and cognitive performance metrics. Our goal is to investigate which objective physiologic metrics can be associated with performance decreases and which could be used to power future warning systems.
In addition, our lab is engaged in an ongoing study of pilot performance and health at high altitudes and gravitational levels related to the grounding of the entire F-22 fighter aircraft fleet in 2011 because of possible oxygen system malfunctions. During that incident, we were involved in a massive effort to help assess what might have been happening to the pilots while in flight.
In 2012, Mayo Clinic, The North Face and National Geographic collaborated to carry out a scientific expedition to Mount Everest. The major aim was to understand how the body adapts to changes in elevation by studying possible cognitive changes and physiologic changes in the lungs and cardiovascular system.
Because of the continuous remote monitoring used in the project, a tremendous amount of data was collected. These data are still being analyzed and reported.
In 2016, our lab was given the opportunity to take the knowledge gained from the Mount Everest expedition and expand on it with an expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro. This study focused intensely on cardiovascular function during elevation change.
In 2018, our lab was once again able to expand on our knowledge of high-altitude physiology. This time, we sent researchers to monitor athletes participating in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) ultramarathon in France and the HK100 ultramarathon in Hong Kong.