Military and Emergency Medicine

Human Performance Laboratory

The Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) is a research laboratory located within the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine. It is an interdisciplinary laboratory where research scientists trained in exercise physiology, nutritional biochemistry, sports psychology, immunology, endocrinology, and psychology work with physicians, medical students, graduate students, and others to investigate various aspects of human performance and stress physiology. The laboratory is fully equipped to assess various components of physical performance, including muscular strength and endurance, anaerobic capacity, and cardiovascular function. In addition to physiologic measures, metabolic, endocrine, immune, and other biochemical responses to exercise are typically examined.

The focus of the HPL is primarily human research, both laboratory and field studies; however, animal and cell culture models have been used to address specific hypotheses. Field studies have included research on: participants in the First Women's Olympic Trials in Olympia, Washington; trainees at the U.S. Navy SEAL training center in Coronado, California; new recruits in the Israeli Defense Force; and participants in triathlons, marathons, and 100-mile endurance runs. In addition, two field studies at altitude have been conducted: one in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming and one on Mount Everest in Nepal. Both of these projects investigated the rationale for recommending high carbohydrate diets at altitude. Projects have been funded by the U.S. Navy Medical Research and Development Command, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Health, and other sources.

Mission of the HPL

  • To maintain a center of excellence for conducting clinical and basic research investigations that add to our understanding of factors that enhance human performance and/or counteract degradation of performance.
  • To provide graduate students, medical students, and other students and personnel at USUHS opportunities to participate in educational research experiences relating to enhancement of human performance, mechanisms of human performance degradation, human nutritional issues, risk factors for training-related injuries, and other projects relevant to military training and operations.
  • To serve as a resource to the USUHS and other Department of Defense (DoD) facilities for information relating to health, physical fitness, nutrition, and physical training programs.
  • To maintain a strong research program for all aspects of human performance and military applications.
  • To establish and maintain collaborative relationships within USUHS and other DoD facilities that share common goals and objectives.
  • To serve the greater Washington Metropolitan community by offering high school students opportunities to work in a research setting.

Projects carried out over the past years:

  • Nutrition manual specific to SEAL training and applicable to other military special forces and civilian law enforcement SWAT units: The Navy SEAL Nutrition Guide.
  • Energy expenditure and nutritional needs of Navy SEAL candidates to enhance training and mission performance success.
  • Sustained operations ration testing at moderate altitude.
  • Energy balance during sustained operations at high altitude.
  • Endocrine responses to stress during lactation.
  • Comparisons of fluid replacement beverages during exercise.
  • Effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on exercise performance
  • Zinc and Vitamin E supplementation and immune responses to exercise.
  • Diet and hydration manual for Navy divers.
  • Physical Performance Battery and Drug Testing for Army Medical Research and Development Command Development and implementation: Validation with militarily relevant drugs.
  • Physical and psychological stress response in Navy SEAL trainees.
  • Clinical investigations of endocrine, immune and metabolic interactions with exercise, in particular, mechanisms of activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA).
  • Concordance between the endocrine and metabolic responses to physiologic and mental stress.
     
  • Determining the effects of various nutritional agents on physical and cognitive performance in Naval Special Warfare personnel.
  • Preparation of a book for the Navy SEALs: The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide.
  • Sentinel Injury Surveillance of fractures and stress fractures at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
  • Validation of the U.S. Air Force Cycle Ergometer Fitness Test.
  • Clinical investigations to examine interactions between HPA axis and immune function in clinical conditions such as autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and several depressive disorders.

Acrobat Reader Files

Active Protocols

  • Comprehensive Soldier Fitness: Physical and Nutritional Resilience Metrics
  • Dietary Supplement Adverse Event Reporting in Operational Environment
  • Dietary Supplements: Sports Medicine Physician Knowledge and Adverse
  • Event Reporting
  • Effects of Caffeine and Heat Exposure on Exercise Induced Creatine Kinase
  • Exertional Heat Illness: Biomarkers for Prediction and Return to Duty
  • Prevalence, Effects, and Side Effects of Energy Drink/Shot Use in the General US Military

Previous Protocols

Person on treadmill
  • Functional Movement Screening
  • Cardiovascular Responses to Mental Stressors and Exercise: Role of Obesity and Depression
  • Health and Metabolic Status in African Americans
  • Enlyten™ Survival Strips™ for Preventing Dehydration and Performance Decrements: A Double Blind Intervention Trial
  • Heat Casualties in Marine Corps Officer Candidate School Training: An Analysis of Risk Factors and Biomarkers
  • Acceptability of Enlyten™ Strips™
  • Enlyten™ Electrolyte Sport Strips™ for the Acute Treatment of Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps in a Mass Participation Event: A Double Blind Intervention Trial
  • Differential Responses to Exertional Stress: A Genetic Perspective
  • Understanding and Characterizing Insulin Resistance and Obesity in East Asians in the U.S.
  • CNP Motor Neuropathy
  • Metabolic evaluation of Combat Personnel
  • Behavior Choice Treatment Promotes Weight Maintenance.
  • Effects of Immersion Pre-Cooling on Performance During and After Warm Water Exercise
  • Effects of warm water swimming and treadmill exercise on fluid regulation.
  • Endocrine and Immune Interactions with Exercise: DHEA Effects on Performance.
  • Gas Switching for Naval Aviators.
  • Physiologic and Endocrine Correlates of Overweight and Obesity in African Americans and Caucasians.
  • Randomized, Placebo Controlled Study to Assess the Safety of Combination Preventative Treatment with Pyridostigamine, DEET, Permethrin.
  • Exercise-Induced Changes in Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Activity in Fibromyalgia.
  • Tyrosine Effects on Physical and Cognitive Performance.
  • Management of Oxygen Toxicity: Antioxidant Therapy for Pulmonary Stress.
  • Toxicity of Low Frequency Sound Exposure.
  • Immunological Response to Hyperbaric Exposure and Rapid Decompression.
  • Navy Health Promotion Manuals: "Force Health Protection: Nutrition and Exercise Resource Manual" and "Peak Performance Through Nutrition and Exercise." Ergogenics in Special Operations: Creatine, Military Performance and Thermal Stress.
  • Nutrition and physical fitness manuals specific to SEAL training and applicable to other military special forces and civilian law enforcement SWAT units: "The Navy SEAL Nutrition Guide" and "The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide."
  • Effect of Choline Supplementation on Physical and Cognitive Performance.
  • Mental Stress Reactivity in High and Low Stress Responders.
  • Energy expenditure and nutritional needs of Navy SEAL candidates to enhance training and mission performance success.
  • Sustained operations ration testing at moderate altitude.
  • Energy balance during sustained operations at high altitude.
  • Endocrine responses to stress during lactation.
  • Comparisons of fluid replacement beverages during exercise.
  • Effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on exercise performance.
  • Zinc and vitamin E supplementation and immune responses to exercise.
  • Diet and hydration manual for Navy divers.
  • Physical Performance Battery and Drug Testing for Army Medical Research and Development Command Development: Validation with militarily relevant drugs.
  • Physical and psychological stress response in Navy SEAL trainees. Clinical investigations of endocrine, immune, reproductive hormones, and metabolic interactions with exercise, in particular, mechanisms of activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA).
  • Concordance between the endocrine and metabolic responses to physiologic and mental stress.
  • Determining the effects of various nutritional agents on physical and cognitive performance in Naval Special Warfare personnel.
  • Sentinel Injury Surveillance of fractures and stress fractures at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
  • Validation of the US Air Force Cycle Ergometer Fitness Test.
  • Clinical investigations to examine interactions between HPA axis and immune function in conditions such as autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and several depressive disorders.
  • Characterization of the SOF Community Norm on the SOF Mission-Related Performance Battery.
  • Hand Thermal Protection: Heated Glove System.
  • Comparison of Instruments to Measure Bone Mineral Density.
Person doing pullups

Capabilities

  • Bicycle Ergometry
  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Blood Glucose and Lactate
  • Body Composition Determination:
    Skinfold Measurements
    Bioelectrical Impedance Analyzer
    Circumference Measurements
  • Body Temperature and Blood Pressure in Conscious Mice
  • Body Temperature Monitoring in Humans (Thermal Pill and Rectal Probes)
  • Chemiluminescence for oxidant and antioxidant assessments
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Cognitive Function Assessment
  • Complete Blood Cell Counts (CBC)
  • Dietary Intake and Nutritional Status Assessment
  • ELISA: Plasma Cytokine Concentrations
  • Glucocorticoid Receptors
  • Heat Tolerance Testing
  • Hemolytic Analysis
  • Hormonal Assays:
    Measuring plasma concentrations of:
    ACTH, Cortisol, DHEA/S, Growth Hormone, Prolactin, Arginine, Vasopressin, Estradiol, Progesterone
    Measuring serum concentrations of:
    Creatine Kinase
  • Immune Assays:
    Immunophenotyping:
    CD markers for various lymphocyte subsets
  • Mineral Assays:
    Zinc, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron
    Dietary Intake and Nutritional Status Assessment
  • Molecular Lab
    Genetics: DNA and mRNA Extraction, DNA Sequencing, qPCR, RT-PCR, TaqMan Probe, SNP and VNTR Analysis
    Protein: ELISAs and Western Blots
  • Muscle Strength and Endurance Testing:
    Biodex Machine
    Automated SOCCOM Handgrip Dynamometer
  • Phlebotomy
  • Portable Gas Exchange System
  • Psychological Questionnaires
  • Radioimmunoassays:
    Insulin
    DHEA
  • Sodium and Potassium in Fluid
  • Special Operations Command Physical Performance Assessment Battery
  • Treadmill Stress Testing