Human and Environmental Physiology Research Unit (HEPRU)

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario
What the facility does

Research on human physiological function and its adaptive response to different environments during rest and exercise

Areas of expertise

The research facility continues to provide researchers and government and industry partners with a unique ability to conduct comprehensive research programs dedicated to the human adaptive response to its environment. HEPRU can now provide end-users with an unparalleled capacity to examine the effects of changing environments on human physiological responses and to evaluate the consequences and limitations on human health and performance imposed by abnormal or severe environments during physical activity or work in individuals of all ages as well as in patients with common chronic diseases.

Research services

Human whole-body calorimetry, assessment of human-system function in different environments, evaluation of human performance and health in adverse environments, defining exposure limits for work performed in harsh environments, assessment of heat tolerance in vulnerable populations, evaluation of the thermal characteristics of commercially available and prototype protective clothing

Sectors of application
  • Clean technology
  • Construction (including building, civil engineering, specialty trades)
  • Defence and security industries
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Forestry and forest-based industries
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Mining, minerals and metals
  • Ocean industries
  • Policy and governance
  • Tourism and hospitality
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
Specialized labEquipmentFunction
HEPRUWhole-body direct calorimeterThis device makes extremely accurate measurements of the heat emitted by the human body
 Large environmental chamber (MNT 310)This unique 15-by-19-foot environmental chamber has an air-flow control and diffuser system to modulate air currents within a wide range of ambient environmental conditions (i.e. –20°C to +50ºC and 15% to 85% RH). A key feature of the chamber is the large, functional space, enabling end-users to re-create real-life field or work conditions and/or study multiple subjects at the same time.
 Small environmental chamber 
HEPRU (Lees Avenue campus)Health and fitness assessment laboratory (cardiorespiratory and resting metabolic rate assessment tools) This lab (MNT 308) is equipped with medical-assessment tools for subject screening and testing, including the measurement of resting energy expenditure and the assessment of strength and cardiorespiratory fitness
 Venous-occlusion plethysmography (MNT 309)Venous-occlusion plethysmography is a non-invasive method used to study human vascular physiology and pharmacology in vivo. The technique can be combined with intra-arterial drug administration to assess changes in forearm blood flow.
 Video-imaging and thermal-mapping system 
 Remote core and skin-temperature monitoring unitThis physiological monitoring system records core temperatures using Jonah Temperature Capsules and four to six skin-temperature patches
 Finometer blood pressure unitThis system is a stand-alone solution for accurate non-invasive beat-to-beat blood pressure monitoringIt incorporates the patented Modelflow® technology providing hemodynamic parameters, such as stroke volume, total peripheral resistance and cardiac output, as well as pulse-rate (variability) and baroreflex sensitivity analysis. 
 Multiple laser-doppler flowmetry units 
 Microdialysis – surgical facilities and equipment available to perform this techniqueThis technique measures extracellular concentrations of substances in tissues, usually in vivo, using a small probe equipped with a semi-permeable membrane. Substances may also be introduced into the extracellular space through the membrane.
 Dew-point hygrometersThis device is used to assess local skin-sweat rate
  • Deep Mining Research Consortium
  • Vale
  • Electrical Power Research Institute
  • Canadian Mining Industry Research Organization
  • Climate Change and Health Office of Health Canada
  • Toronto Public Health
  • Defence Research and Development Canada
  • Department of Defense United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command