Novel ways to stress the human system.

The struggles of patients against adverse conditions parallels those of athletes in extreme environments.

Extremes of heat, cold, and altitude.

EEPCore is a flagship research and instructional facility within the Department of Human Physiology at the University of Oregon

“Bringing the mountain into the lab”

Going to extremes to advance human health and performance.

The EEPCore provides specialized research and educational capabilities for studying human physiology and is used by researchers investigating the human response to environmental stresses such as extremes of heat, cold, and altitude.

The EEPCore consists of a custom-built environmental chamber, equipment for human studies, and supporting areas. The environmental chamber is a special 12’x12′ room. It has a sophisticated heating and cooling system and walls made of encapsulated 4” thick urethane insulation. This chamber allows us to expose humans to different environmental conditions, and to try and understand how the physiology responds and adapts when we expose someone to heat stress, cold stress, changes in humidity, and even changes in altitude. We have had the chamber operating as cold as 0°Fahrenheit and as hot as 130°Fahrenheit. At the same time we can control humidity so that it can be an arid 20% relative humidity or a stifling 95% relative humidity, or anything in between. We can produce weather on demand. We even have infrared heat lamps to replicate the radiant heat of direct sunlight. Using molecular sieve technology, oxygen levels can be reduced to simulate altitude. We have had the chamber operating at altitudes as high as 18,000 feet, and can combine altitude with these other environmental conditions to simulate the environmental stress of nearly any setting. In simplest terms, if we wanted to study the physiology of a mountaineer climbing a high peak, we could drag hundreds of pounds of lab equipment up the mountain. Rather than take the lab to the mountain, this chamber allows us to bring the mountain to the lab.

Integral equipment include a metabolic cart for measuring energy expenditure and oxygen use, a medical gas analyzer used for non-invasive assessments of gas exchange and cardiac output, a data collection systems for multi-site skin and body core temperature recordings, and both a treadmill and a cycle ergometer to test human work capacity and performance.

Our supporting areas include a human subject preparation area where we can instrument a subject prior to entering the chamber, or allow them to recover after they exit the chamber.

Our biospecimen handling area is used process blood and other samples to measure stress hormones, metabolites, and other chemicals. Instrumentation includes a centrifuge and microcentrifuge, blood analyzers for glucose, lactate, osmolarity, hemoglobin, and hematocrit, a spectrophotometer and fluorometer, and a microplate shaker, washer, and reader for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA), and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

Our sterile instrumentation prep area has a steam and gas autoclave to sterilize instrumentation and devices used in our more invasive human studies.

Lastly, we have the Duck pond, an immersion pool which can be used to invoke rapid changes in body core temperature with either warm or cold water immersion.