Noll Laboratory, originally called the "Human Performance Laboratory", is a research facility in the Department of Kinesiology that is dedicated to studying physiology, especially as it relates to health and disease. A primary mission of the Noll Lab is to investigate specific physiological mechanisms underlying the positive health effects of physical activity and the adverse health effects of physical inactivity, with the ultimate goal of improving human health across the lifespan. Current research projects focus on thermoregulation, cardiovascular and muscle function, energy balance and reproductive function, exercise-mediated cardioprotection, and orthostatic tolerance. Both human subjects and small animal models are used to study physiology from the molecular level to the intact organism. At present, there is an emphasis on control of regional blood flow and cardiac function during physical stresses including exercise, gravity, heat/cold and how these responses are altered by aging.
Faculty in Noll Lab are currently supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Aeronautical and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, private foundations, and industry. One of our faculty members, serving as a Payload Specialist with NASA, was a co-investigator for experiments flown on the Neurolab STS-90 in April of 1998. An important mission of the Laboratory is graduate and undergraduate education in the physiological sciences. Students from the Kinesiology Program and the Inter-college Graduate Program in Physiology, and select students from other college departments and majors conduct their thesis and dissertation experiments in Noll Laboratory.
The current laboratory is housed in its own dedicated building with over 30,000 square feet of research space containing a vast array of specialized instrumentation, equipment and chambers for the measurement of physiological processes under various environmental conditions.
The Penn State Human Performance Laboratory was established in 1963 by Dr. E.R. Buskirk. The original facility was set up in the renovated team room complex located under the bleachers of old Beaver Stadium, on land now occupied by the Keller and Kern Buildings and the Nittany Parking Deck. It was composed of general office space, a small library, a shop and electrical facility, a biochemistry laboratory, a general testing room, and two environmentally controlled exposure chambers. Additional space for instrument fabrication and repair was utilized in the nearby “Water Tower”, which still stands adjacent to the Nittany Lion Inn. The lab also used a converted moving van trailer, which was located between the main facility and the water tower. In 1966, the Laboratory became involved in cooperative studies with Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan Universities. More space was needed and so the Myra Dock Home Management Cottage and a mobile lab in a large trailer behind Beaver Stadium were added. The expansions necessitated by a growing research agenda left The Human Performance Lab spread across four physical locations, and there was a need to consolidate. A proposal to the National Institutes of Health to renovate and expand the original training room facility was approved in the early 1970’s, but the University chose to relocate the Laboratory to its current site next to the Recreation Building. Construction of the building was completed in 1974, at which time it became known as the Laboratory for Human Performance Research. In 1994 the Laboratory was designated a Research Center within the College of Health and Human Development and the name was changed to the Noll Physiological Research Center. The Elmore Clinical Research Wing was added to the Noll facility in 1998. This addition houses the Clinical Research Center (CRC), a joint operation of Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the College of Health and Human Development. Research in the GCRC is funded by the National Institutes of Health. The Human Performance Laboratory is now known simply as Noll Laboratory. It operates under the auspices of the Department of Kinesiology within the College of Health and Human Development. Though the name and location of the Noll Laboratory have changed over the years, the fundamental mission of improving human health through research into basic physiological processes remains the same.