Upstate News

January 24, 2000
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Institute for Human Performance opens at Upstate Medical University Jan. 27

The new $50 million Institute for Human Performance will officially open on the campus of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse on Thursday, Jan. 27 during a reception for those instrumental in the Institute’s creation. The Institute will serve as an incubator for millions of dollars of biomedical research aimed at extending the reaches of human performance and dissolving limitations of disease, disability and aging.

“This extraordinary building holds the power and the promise of expanding human performance for all — world class athletes and individuals with physical disabilities — by helping us improve how we jump, dance, run, sit, swim, walk — and live,” said Gregory L. Eastwood, M.D., president of Upstate, formerly known as the SUNY Health Science Center. “Through the synergy of physicians working in close collaboration with neuroscientists, bioengineers and others we will be on a fast track for finding cures for what ails us, strengthening the educational foundation of our future doctors and scientists and improving patient access to breakthrough treatments.”

The 200,000 square foot building — the size of a full city block — features four floors of technology and lab space to perform difficult and complex research endeavors.

“While we continue to make discoveries in laboratories with beakers and test tubes, many scientists require technology and equipment that is capable of monitoring the slightest change or computing the most complicated formulas,” Eastwood noted.

Eastwood continued, “It is with this in mind that we have given our physicians and scientists the most advanced tools with which to uncover new insight into how the human body performs.”

Key features of the Institute include:

  • an indoor track with seven force plates for ultra-sensitive motion analysis. Force plate readings can be correlated with telemetric motion analysis data, such as muscular and skeletal images, and electromyography readings to create a precise picture of the interactive elements involved in motion.
  • radiostereometric analysis equipment that creates 3D X-ray images to measure minute changes with bone and joint replacement implants.
  • a multi-purpose aquatic center, anchored by a 25-meter, four-lane temperature controlled pool. The 200-ton floor of this extraordinary pool adjusts from ground level to seven feet in depth, making it ideal for diverse applications, including aquatic therapy under reduced-gravity conditions, performance analysis for competitive swimmers and health promotion programs.
  • an aquatic research laboratory where computers will use telemetry to capture cardiovascular, motion analysis and other data from patients in the pool.
  • a SwimEx hydrotherapy system, with 40 adjustable speeds of surface water, advanced instrumentation and complete underwater visibility. This system — similar to the one used by the U.S. Olympic athletes — adds a crucial dimension to both performance enhancement and rehabilitative capabilities of the Institute.

Research on a myriad of medical issues is already in progress at the Institute. Key studies include:

  • a $975,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop a statewide emergency notification system that would provide automatic location information when wireless telephones are used to call 9-1-1.
  • an $800,000 grant from the National Institutes for Health to study how chronic pain is related to brain activity and brain chemistry.
  • a $711,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the biomechanics of the moving wrist. By using software from the movie Toy Story, researchers will evaluate the moving wrist to establish the precise function of the major ligaments. This will enable them to develop better diagnostic methods and more effective surgical reconstructions.
  • a $524,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore how artificial joint replacements adhere to bone. The ultimate goal is to reduce joint loosening and increase the longevity of joint replacements beyond 15 years.
  • a $300,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a prototype wellness program for women with mobility-related disabilities. Results will help hospitals, fitness centers and other institutions design health promotion programs for similar populations.
  • a $53,000 grant from the Orthopedic Research Education Foundation to study the bone density in young gymnasts. Early results, which show that extensive gymnastic activity significantly increased the bone density of gymnasts between ages 7 and 11, could have implications for preventing osteoporosis.
  • various biomedical companies are funding research into developing an artificial nucleus for patients with early intervertebral disk problems. Researchers have already developed a jelly-like nucleus that will not fragment and irritate tissues around the disc.

In addition, the Institute will serve as the headquarters of the New York State Indoor Environmental Quality Center, a new consortium supported in part by a $2 million federal grant. Researchers from nearby Syracuse University will partner with SUNY Upstate scientists to find how air, water, noise stress and other indoor elements affect human performance.

Upstate Provost Kenneth Barker, Ph.D., who will oversee the building’s research endeavors, called the Institute an investment in New York’s future. “The Institute represents a remarkable investment in the future of Central New York, and in the entire state by the State University of New York that will significantly strengthen New York’s stature as the place for confronting the challenges of biomedical science and improving the nation’s health.

“No other facility offers under one roof this distinctive combination of research and clinical care capabilities,” Barker said.

A public open house will be scheduled for late Spring.

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