"This opens the door to other investigators within the Medical Center who are working in similar areas of motor behavior," said Charles Layne, professor and department chair. "This is the culmination of years of work and marks the beginning of a new era in research for UH and for HHP."
The National Center for Human Performance was founded in 2004 with the goal of maintaining and enhancing human performance in the arts, sports, space exploration, military and in the public, through the ethical and appropriate applications of research and education in medicine and related sciences.
The department's LIP is the first occupant at the center. Its advisory board members include astronauts, former athletes, an Olympic coach and representatives from many TMC entities.
"We're excited about the caliber of research and research partners," Layne said. "By extension, our students will have opportunities to work alongside seasoned investigators who may one day become colleagues."
Established four years ago by the HHP department, the LIP is a fully equipped human performance, physiology, biochemistry laboratory capable of performing a wide variety of testing and analyses, ranging from the cellular and molecular levels up to the organ and systems levels. The cross-disciplinary expertise among the LIP researchers allows integrated study of the musculo-skeletal, cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems using biochemical, physiological and engineering approaches.
"We're hopeful that our presence in the National Center for Human Performance will provide a focal point for multidisciplinary studies related to human neuromotor control," said Professor William Paloski, leader of the LIP research team in the National Center for Human Performance. "By bringing together scientists, engineers and clinicians in this way, we work to improve the quality of life for those disabled by the effects of injury, disease or aging."
Paloski's research investigates normal and abnormal sensory-motor control of balance and locomotion, with applications to aging populations and space flight. Paloski spent 23 years at NASA's Johnson Space Center as a researcher in its neuroscience laboratory studying postural stability control and sensory motor performance in astronauts during and after space flight.
Assistant professor Adam Thrasher investigates biomechanics and electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles to restore function. Thrasher works with spinal cord injury patients and those with Parkinson's disease. His researchhas used imaging software to measure the pressure exerted in the gluteus muscles when a spinal cord patient sits for prolonged periods. Currently, he and his team are investigating walking function in those with incomplete spinal cord injuries.
Assistant Professor Jian Liu investigates gait analysis and the biomechanics of slips and falls. Lieu conducts occupational studies to calculate the fall-risk assessment in the elderly or those with mobility challenges. Using "fall event detection technology" Liu examines how the elderly and those with walking difficulties can prevent falls and the injuries related to falls.