Naval Medical Research Unit (Dayton, OH)

Naval Medical Research Unit (Dayton, OH)

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The Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton’s (NAMRU-Dayton) Mission: To maximize warfighter performance and survivability through premier aerospace medical and environmental health research by delivering solutions to the Field, the Fleet and for the future.

NAMRU-Dayton is composed of two research directorates:


The Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL) conducts aerospace-relevant research in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Our lab is equipped with capabilities in acceleration and sensory sciences, biomedical sciences, environmental physiology, and engineering and technical services, all of which are supported by a unique collection of state-of-the-science research devices. Our research portfolio enables NAMRU-Dayton to transition validated knowledge and effective technologies to the fleet, mitigating and preventing leading factors associated with aeromedical mishaps.

The Acceleration & Sensory Sciences Department has a unique set of human-rated acceleration devices to maintain a technology base critical to Naval Aviation and other federal and non-federal aerospace customers. The department addresses a number of aircrew issues including cognitive aspects of spatial disorientation prevention and mitigation, Spine Biodynamics – focusing on neck and low back pain, and vision sciences where a broad spectrum of basic and applied research are used. Scientists focus on the biomechanical and physiological effects to deliver technologies for quantitative assessment of spine function and rehabilitation. The vision science lab addresses problems associated with human visual performance, including laser veiling glare and laser eye protection as well as the impact of low level neurotoxins on aircrew. This team is responsible for the development and validation of new color-vision tests and standards for aviation screening.

The Biomedical Sciences Department focuses on innovative research and engineering technology development, directly addressing the human factors and human performance needs of the warfighter. The department’s core capabilities focus on the top human centered issues of aerospace mishaps, incidents and near misses. Our fatigue team focuses on fatigue measures and countermeasures using pharmacologic alertness aids. Scientists test pharmacokinetics and efficacy of low dose medications as a motion sickness countermeasure in our Neuro-Otologic Test Center. This team also evaluates simulator sickness in mixed reality environments. Additionally, our scientists are involved in the development and validation of cognitive and personality measures in the selection of unmanned aircraft systems.

The Engineering and Technical Services Department provides critical support of research in the directorate, across the command, and in joint efforts in the maintenance of our core science devices and research requirements. The department is home to several human-rated motion platforms to include the Disorientation Research Device – the KrakenTM, which is a one-of-a-kind research platform capable of multi-axis motion for up to two subjects in yaw, pitch, roll, and heave while undergoing planetary and linear accelerations. A unique team of mechanical and electrical engineers, statisticians, software engineers and fabrication specialists support the operation of this device. The department also houses a fabrication shop equipped for technicians to construct in-house research devices, reconfigure existing devices, and perform a wide range of fabrication services.

The Environmental Physiology Department investigates causes and mitigations related to combating physiological episodes for tactical jet aircrew. Scientists conduct studies on flight physiology and environment to reduce aviation related physiologic episodes program. The altitude effects team looks at respiratory physiology, alternobaric affects, aircrew status monitoring, and mitigation.

Core Science Facilities and Laboratories:

  • Altitude Labs
  • Applied Physiology Labs
  • Electroencephalography Lab
  • Fatigue Assessment and Countermeasures Lab
  • Fabrication Shop
  • Acceleration and Motion Effects
    • Disorientation Research Device – the KrakenTM
    • Motion Base System (MOOG)
    • Multi Axis Balance Perturbation Platform
    • Neuro-Otologic Test Center (NOTC)
    • Visual Vestibular Sphere Device (VVSD)
  • Laser Lab
  • Hypoxia Labs
  • Mixed Reality Simulation Lab
  • MV-22 Osprey Static Display Lab
  • Respiratory Physiology Labs
  • Sensors Lab
  • Spine Biodynamics Lab
  • Spatial Disorientation Simulator Labs
  • Vision Lab & Eye Lane
  • Night vision Goggle Lab
  • Wet Lab

In addition, NAMRU-Dayton has access to the DoD’s only human centrifuge via the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)


The Environmental Health Effects Laboratory (EHEL) assesses potential health effects associated with exposure to various environmental stressors our military encounters, such as physical stressors and chemical and material hazards. Our scientists evaluate the effects of exposure from multiple standpoints. The ultimate objective is to generate appropriate data used in the development of health protective exposure standards for our military and civilian populations.

The Behavioral, Cognitive and Neurophysiology Department aims to minimize operational performance degradation and reduce health risks posed by hazardous materials. By using various tests (i.e. behavioral, cognitive and neuro-electrophysiological assessments) and equipment, scientists evaluate neurological effects of exposure to chemicals and environmental hazards/stressors associated with military operations. Following exposure to chemicals and environmental hazards/stressors, we can 1) determine the effects on a cellular level, to include mechanism(s) of action, 2) understand or counteract performance-based decrements, and 3) identify and understand biomarkers of exposure and/or effects.

The Occupational and Environmental Health Department (Environmental Toxicology) uses in vitro, in silico, and animal models to investigate environmental health effects relevant to the Navy and the Department of Defense. The research teams look at topics such as jet fuel and noise, toxicity of jet fuels, and in vitro lung and dermal screening tests for fuel toxicity. The department’s in vitro capabilities allow for a more cost effective and rapid screening of compounds and the eventual replacement of whole animal testing.

The Inhalation Toxicology Department examines inhalation of environmental toxins and their toxic effects to address questions related to the health and safety of military personnel. Scientists identify the toxicities of chemicals and materials at the molecular, cellular, organ, and whole body levels by using various biological and chemical model systems of materials via various routes of exposure.  Our inhalation capabilities are extensive, allowing for exposures to gases and vapors, aerosols, particulates, and nanoparticles, using both whole-body and nose-only inhalation chambers. Efforts have concentrated on desert sand and burn pit emissions, nanomaterials, and fire extinguishing materials. Scientists also focus on submariner health and were instrumental in establishing the current exposure standards for atmospheric components.

The Technical Research Support Department provides research support across directorate activities related to inhalation and environmental toxicology, addressing questions related to operator health, performance and safety.

Core EHEL Science Facilities and Laboratories:

  • Analytical/Chemistry Lab
  • Animal Exposure Facility
  • Animal Hearing Assessment Lab
  • Animal Imaging Lab
  • Animal Pulmonary Assessment Facility
  • Cell/Tissue Culture (In vitro)
  • Pre-clinical Assessment Lab
  • Animal Behavioral/Cognition
  • Neuroelectrophysiology
  • Physical Performance
  • Molecular Biology
  • Rodent Centrifuge

In addition, NAMRU-Dayton has a Veterinary Pathologist and access to an AAALAC accredited animal facility operated by the Air Force Research Laboratory, which has necropsy, surgical and histology capabilities.