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Comparative Exercise Physiology

The CEPL performs basic, translational, and applied research in the field of exercise physiology and sports medicine, with the goal of improving the health and well-being and performance of animal athletes – even humans.

About the Lab

The CEPL is equipped with a robust array of scientific equipment for use in these activities, including high-resolution respirometry, whole animal calorimetry, non-invasive pulmonary mechanical measurements, on-site blood gas and serum chemistry analysis, video endoscopy, and a full array of standard bioscience benchtop analytical instruments.  Additionally, the CEPL maintains groups of dedicated equine and canine athletes as established research colonies, enabling the laboratory to conduct studies with a minimum of delay and expense normally associated with procuring appropriate subjects.  

The physical centerpieces of the CEPL are the Equine Sports Medicine Building, the Equine Research Park, and the Canine Performance Laboratory. These facilities each play a vital role in various aspects of the research preformed by the CEPL. They are not only assets for our research, but also for teaching and clinical activities. 



Analytical Lab

The CEPL analytical laboratory located at the Oklahoma State College of Veterinary Medicine in McElroy Hall offers a full array of standard bioscience benchtop instruments. In addition to standard benchtop instruments, we also offer the following specialized equipment:

  • The OROBOROS Oxygraph-2k - a system designed for high-resolution respirometry (HRR). The integrative systems approach of the Oxygraph-2k provides high quality HRR for mitochondrial studies in cell physiology and pathology. The Oxygraph-2k has applications including but not limited to biomedical research, clinical applications and establishing quantitative functional mitochondria diagnosis.
  • The Buxco Large Animal Whole Body Plethysmograph - measures respiratory function in dogs without the use of anesthesia or restraint. The system relies on a specially designed chamber with sensitive pressure transducers to measure changes inside the chamber. Small pressure signals are created and, utilizing a special algorithm, software derives ventilatory and bronchoconstriction parameters.
  • Heska DRI-CHEM® 7000 Chemistry Analyzer - has the capacity to run five individual comprehensive panels in 30 minutes, five individual pre-surgical panels in 16 minutes, and load five samples at one time. The DRI-CHEM® 7000 analyzer provides automated dilution and results calculations on every parameter for samples outside of measurable limits.
  • ABL80 FLEX CO-OX analyzer - a cassette-based blood gas analyzer that offers a variety of parameter panels. This portable, multi-test, stand-alone analyzer is a compact system with automatic quality control and full data integration that produces reliable test results in as little as 60 seconds.
  • Field Metabolic System (FMS) - a fully integrated respirometry system that combines O2, CO2 and H2O analysis with data acquisition and subsample flow control and measurement. This calorimetry system measures water vapor directly, eliminating sample gas drying and increasing accuracy. The FMS has the ability to connect with multiple instruments via 8 analog outputs and its onboard memory allows for storage of data collected in the field.
  • LICOR Odyssey Fc Imaging System - produces clear, accurate, reproducible digital images of Western blots and DNA gels. Near-infrared fluorescence delivers consistent signals that are not affected by timing giving you high-quality images without the subjectivity of multiple film exposures.
  • FreeZone 4.5 Liter Benchtop Freeze Dry System - designed for light aqueous sample loads. It has the ability to remove over 2 liters of water in 24 hours and features a 10-port stainless steel drying chamber and collector chamber, a 1/3hp CFC-free refrigeration system and patented moisture sensors.

Big Lake Lab

The study of racing sled dogs as elite animal athletes has been a centerpiece of the CEPL for nearly two decades, with projects centered on both improving the health, well-being, and performance of the dogs, as well as studying the dogs as marvels of mammalian physiology (with the hope of being able to replicate some parts of that physiology in lesser athletes, such as humans).

The CEPL-Big Lake laboratory is located in Big Lake, Alaska. The laboratory is designed to meet USDA requirements for housing dogs being used in research while also preserving the dogs’ ability to thrive in the Arctic winter. The Big Lake Lab is compromised of two main rooms, the lab and the kennel. The kennel can house up to 38 dogs and also has an examination/minor procedures room.


Canine Performance Lab

The Canine Performance Laboratory is located immediately adjacent to the university housing facilities for research dogs, and features a custom-built treadmill in an environmental chamber.  

This facility also includes a custom-designed system for the precise quantification of olfactory performance in detection dogs.


Equine Sports Medicine Building

The Equine Sports Medicine building features an EquiGym high-speed treadmill for combined research and clinical use by the veterinary center. The treadmill has infinitely variable speeds from 4 to 60 mph and can incline from 0 to 10 percent. With independent climate control systems and large volume fans to ensure appropriate thermoregulation during exercise, the facility is a turn-key asset for research, teaching, and clinical activities involving exercising horses.


Equine Research Park

The Equine Research Park is a multifunctional satellite facility that is part of the OSU-CVM USDA-, PHS, and AALAC-approved collection of research and teaching facilities. Situated on forty acres of land in Stillwater, Oklahoma, twenty-eight of the forty acres are dedicated to pasture while a stall barn, BSL-2 barn, force plate facility, arena and storage barn are situated on the remaining twelve acres of land. The ERP is set up to support a wide variety of research projects including but not limited to lameness studies, exercise studies, vaccination trials and gastrointestinal studies.

  • BSL-2 Barn has the capacity to hold up to sixteen twelve-foot by twelve-foot stalls. This barn is climate controlled and is equipped with a large capacity single-pass HEPA-filtered ventilation system that allows the facility to operate to Biosafety Level 2 standards. The BSL-2 barn has an attached laboratory with standard bench-top tools.
  • Stall Barn holds up to twenty stalls. This barn doesn’t have permanently set stalls so it is a flexible space that can be set up in a manner that best supports current project needs.
  • Pastures - The ERP has twenty-eight acres of fenced pasture, each providing access to shelter and water. The pasture area is divided such that we can offer three separate pastures each separated by a twelve-foot gap. These three pasture areas are further divided into smaller paddock areas by a single fence. This set up allows us the capability to house three independent groups of animals that can all be isolated from each other.
  • Force Plate Building is equipped with a Kistler Multicomponent Force Plate and its associated BioWare® Bio Mechanical Software Analysis System. This system is designed for basic research and use in sports. It is useful in measuring ground reaction forces, moments, and centers of pressure in biomechanics. The plate is highly sensitive due to piezoelectric sensors and can measure dynamic phenomena in a wide range of applications.
  • Our Herd - The ERP currently maintains a herd of resident horses that are cared for by our student workers and research team. Our horses participate in our teaching and research and are helping us to better understand the effects of exercise on physiology.
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