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Navy's Medical Research Labs Expand PE Facilities, Studies.

The Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL) has expanded its research portfolio of physiological episode-related studies from about five per year prior to fiscal 2017 to 25 unique PE research protocols in fiscal 2018.

With a number of unexplained PEs being reported across Navy and Air Force aircraft platforms, Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton (NAMRU-Dayton) is responding to the challenge by rapidly expanding its environmental physiology research capacity by adding experienced altitude effects researchers and developing new laboratory facilities.

Research topics include the effects of barometric pressure changes, the effects of variable breathing gas mixtures, and the effects of breathing resistance on aircrew physiology and performance. The lab is developing and testing a range of physiologic, gas and chemical sensors for use as in-flight PE detection and mitigation tools.

NAMRL is not alone in the fight to understand and mitigate PEs.

For example, the Environmental Health Effects Laboratory (EHEL) is collaborating with NAMRL to conduct more extreme environmental exposure protocols than NAMRL can accomplish through its human-use research program.

In addition, NAMRU-Dayton is strengthening its collaboration with other DOD laboratories including the Naval Medical Research Center, Naval Health Research Center, Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, NAMRU-San Antonio, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division and Training Systems Division, Navy Experimental Diving Unit, Air Force 711th Human Performance Wing and Army Aeromedical Laboratory.

The Dayton unit is also working with academia and industry partners including Case Western Reserve University, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, and KBRwyle to conduct research and development (R&D) in response to the rise of in-flight physiologic episodes.

The command continues to receive R&D support from long-term stakeholders such as the Naval Air Systems Command. More recently, non-traditional sponsors of aeromedical research such as Defense Health Agency and Bureau of Medicine and Surgery have enabled the lab to mount a substantial response to the threat of PEs to DOD aircrew.

In support of the lab's planned research, NAMRL is constructing a new respiratory physiology laboratory that will aid studies on the effects of four factors:

* variable breathing gas mixtures

* in-line breathing resistance

* breathing gas pressure and flow disruptions

* flight equipment fit on aircrew physiology and cognitive function

NAMRL is building several aircraft-specific life support system (LSS) simulators to reproduce the breathing environments of the T-45 and F/A-18 aircraft.

Due to this surge in PE-related research NAMRL has added a number of senior scientific staff with experience in respiratory physiology research.

For more information, visit www. You can also follow the command on Twitter @NAMRUDayton and Facebook @ NavalMedicalResearchUnitDayton.

Please Note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.

Dr. Richard D. Arnold is the director of the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Naval Medical Research UnitDayton.

Caption: Lt. Todd Seech, an aerospace experimental psychologist with the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory at Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton (NAMRU-Dayton), breathes through an oxygen mask in a reduced breathing environment used to examine the interaction of hypoxia and fatigue effects.

Caption: Lieutenants Dan Xu (left), a Navy research biochemist, and Joshua Roaf, a naval surface warfare officer and graduate intern at NAMRU-Dayton, work to draw a filter sample for contaminant verification of particulate matter during a test at the unit's Environmental Health Effects Laboratory in July.
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Author:Arnold, Richard D.
Publication:Naval Aviation News
Date:Sep 22, 2018
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