Health and Exercise Science unveils new lab expansion, naming opportunities

Video by Marissa Isgreen and Kelsey Hussey

Richard “Gay” Israel would have been proud.

On Nov. 15, the Department of Health and Exercise Science unveiled an expansion of the research facility that was the brainchild of Israel, who headed the department for 18 years and passed away in April 2016.

Barry Braun, who succeeded Israel as department head and ensured that the plan to increase the capacity of the Human Performance Clinical Research Laboratory came to fruition, pledged at the Nov. 15 grand opening to raise enough donations to name the lab’s welcome area in Israel’s honor.

Barry Braun
Barry Braun

Then he presented his own personal check of $3,000 as the first donation toward the $125,000 needed.

“If you’re going to drink the water, remember who dug the well,” he told audience members gathered at the ceremony, which began in the department’s new teaching facility just north of the lab.

Other speakers

In addition, Braun acknowledged the financial contributions made to the $2.7 million project by the College of Health and Human Sciences and Office of the Vice President for Research. Jeff McCubbin, dean of the college, and Alan Rudolph, vice president for research, also offered remarks at the event.

“This is another step for Health and Exercise Science as they build capacity across campus and work collaboratively with other CSU units to expand our research capability,” McCubbin said of the 5,800-square-foot expansion.

Rudolph noted that the lab’s focus on wellness and quality of life is not just a reflection of why many people choose to live in Colorado and the West, but a national priority on human performance in areas like national security and defense.

“It’s an exciting time for us, and an important time for us,” he said.

Photos by Xavier Hadley

Facility tours

The ceremony concluded with tours of the addition and demonstrations of the kind of work underway there. The expanded HPCRL, located on the east side of Moby Arena, features more space for the Heart Disease Prevention Program, which identifies risk for heart disease and provides lifestyle modification plans. The initiative supports the health and wellness of firefighters, who die from heart disease at a rate much higher than the general population.

“This is a program that is going to help prevent a heart attack in the person who’s coming to put out the fire in your house,” Braun noted.

HPCRL entrance

The addition also now includes new dedicated space for four labs available to donors as naming opportunities:

  • Movement Neuroscience and Rehabilitation Lab: This lab features virtual-reality driving simulators that will be used in Assistant Professor Neha Lodha’s research on aging, the consequences of a stroke and the effectiveness of rehabilitation on older adults’ ability to drive. The lab features state-of-the-art equipment as well as mobile, wearable sensors that assess movement in an everyday environment.
  • Clinical Biomechanics Lab: Created in a former racquetball court, this lab is used for Associate Professor Raoul Reiser’s work on human movement during walking and running. The lab also studies interactions between footwear and playing surfaces, including the turf used in CSU’s new on-campus stadium. The state-of-the-art lab also features an instrumented staircase that records and measures downward force and joint angles to assess movement patterns and risk for falling as people walk up and down stairs.
  • Physical Activity for Prevention and Treatment Lab: This lab will focus primarily on Assistant Professor Heather Leach’s research on exercise-based interventions for cancer patients and survivors. Several current projects focus on promoting lifelong physical activity and using exercise to improve physical and physiological outcomes in cancer survivors.
  • Sensorimotor Neuroimaging Lab: Assistant Professor Brett Fling has set up a state-of-the-art Sensorimotor and Neuroimaging Lab where his group studies neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, and tests and develops rehabilitative therapies.
HPCRL opening

College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Jeff McCubbin, right, talks with Assistant Professor Kaigang Li.

The design

Architect Art Hoy, who also designed the department’s teaching facility completed two years ago, incorporated the same themes into both projects — themes that reflect the department’s mission: health, movement, energy and activity.

“We wanted the form to follow function, but we also wanted it to reflect what we care about,” Braun said.

Energy walkway“We planned the building as a series of simple nested forms that terrace towards the west, opening up the new lab spaces to a garden and lawn panel, with each space having full-height glass walls that make dramatic interior to exterior connections,” Hoy explained. “The benefits of natural daylighting in interior built environments is that people perform better and feel better when they have access to changing daylighting throughout the day, with a variety of views to the exterior environment.”

‘Energy Walkway’

“We call the main common circulation in the new addition the ‘Energy Walkway,’” Hoy continued. “It is a tall, linear space that is covered by a continuous skylight, bringing daylight deep into the interior. The changing daylight throughout the day and the seasons inject a kinetic energy into the facility, and along with the tall vertical proportions of the space, create an uplifting feeling that actually increases your gait as you move through it.”

“This whole process has been enjoyable from start to finish,” Braun said of the project, which was led by CSU Construction Management alumni Laura Bently and Brady Carlstrom of CSU’s Facilities Management. “There aren’t too many construction projects you can say that about.”

The HPCRL has been designated as a CSU Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence since 2008. The Department of Health and Exercise Science is home to 1,400 undergraduate majors and is based in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

HPCRL opening