WPEM strives to mesh the research world with the operational field environment by combining study models that integrate the control of the laboratory with the hostilities of the field.
The home base of the Montana Center of Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism (WPEM) is at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT. WPEM's high tech $1.5 million facility opened it's doors in 2008 and is a 3,550 sqft. facility which includes a biochemistry lab and a climate controlled environmental chamber that researches can manipulate temperature and humidity. The funds for the facility came from a U.S. Air Force grant, however the driving force which created the vision and made this possible was a choice made by Brent Ruby, the Director of WPEM. It was the choice to combine raw, rough field data with carefully controlled laboratory results to draw conclusions. This sets WPEM apart from the rest.
"If all we did was field research, we'd still have some good recognition nationally. If we were only doing lab work, we'd be just another lab on the horizon. But the fact that we're doing both starts to raise people's eyebrows a little bit." - Brent Ruby
How is this done? Brent Ruby and the WPEM scientists have a solar powered,25 foot Airstream trailer which serves as their mobile laboratory. It has been custom modified to support both feild research and controlled laboratory needs. This has enabled the WPEM scientists the opportunity go to the feild rather than to try to recreate the field within a home based controlled laboratory setting.
They have been able to collect samples from in-field race participants by parking trailside at prestigious events such as the Western States 100 race, the Badwater races and ultra marathons where the runners cover over 100 miles in grueling heat conditions. They have ventured with their needles and urine sample cups to the ice wall of Mount Ranier and Denali while in another study have been able to drive side by side, with trailer in tow, next to a group of college age males who rode their bicycles from Missoula to Colorado and back in 21 days. The WPEM scientists study the stress hormones, enzyme RNA levels and stable isotope tracers to draw a more clear picture of what happens to the human body under great physical and or environmental stress. This data serves as groundbreaking science to gauge the limits of the human energy expenditure: The Human Ceiling.
The research findings of WPEM fulfills the need to know about how the human body performs under stress which benefits those involved in activity beyond recreation extremes. Soldiers and wild-firefighters exert themselves in slogs that last for days in hostile environmental conditions, or in bursts of energy followed by minimal downtimes. It is vital to the military men such as the Marines, Navy Seals, Army Rangers and wild-firefighters to know about how the human body performs under stress. WPEM heads the way in this leading edge research.
The University of Montana
Montana Center for Work Physiology
and Exercise Metabolism
32 Campus Drive
McGill Hall - HHP
Missoula, MT 59812