Christian J. Lambertsen
Professor of Environmental Medicine
Founder, Institute for Environmental Medicine
Acute and sustained
adaptations to natural and synthetic respiratory environments at rest
and at work. Control of internal oxygen and acid-base environments.
Extension of tolerance to oxygen and hypoxia in clinical, atmospheric,
undersea and aerospace circumstances. Gas narcosis, density, and toxic
effects. Decompression and isobaric gas lesion diseases. Measurement of
limits of human physical, physiologic and cognitive performance in
extreme environments. Technology transfer through Environmental
Biomedical Research Data Center.
Dynamic measurement of human
respiratory reactivity, blood and brain acid-base and oxygenation
states. Mental, psychomotor and sensory performance measurement. Retinal
electrical activity and visual evoked potential. Doppler monitoring of
vascular gas embolism. Predictive modeling of interactions of
environmental stress effects on physiologic functions.
Summary of Research Program
Use of altered environmental
gases, pressures and temperatures to magnify and make measurable changes
in fundamental respiratory, neural and cardiovascular functions, to
elucidate normal regulatory mechanisms, and to study their disruption by
graded exposures to environmental extremes. Development of advanced
decompression procedures. Human beings are used as appropriate for the
effects and mechanisms examined. Chemical, electrical, flow,
histopathology, neuromuscular functions and mental functions are
employed to track isolated or concurrent effects of purposeful activity
or external physical or chemical stress. Research emphasizes
quantitative separation of effects of oxygen, pressure and inert gas
components upon specific tissue and organ functions. Measurements of
effect are followed by study of methods to prevent or extend tolerance
to effects (e.g., hyperoxia, hypoxia, narcosis). Results are applicable
to clinical use of oxygen and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, to manned
undersea and aerospace activity, synthetic biologic fluids, anesthesia,
and influences of drugs upon mental and physical functions.
· Lambertsen, C.J. and J. Idicula. A new gas
lesion syndrome in man, induced by "isobaric gas counter-diffusion."
J. Appl. Physiol. 39: 434-443, 1975.
· Lambertsen, C.J. Extension of oxygen
tolerance: the philosophy and significance. In: Symposium on
Extension of Oxygen Tolerance. Exper. Lung Res. 14 (Suppl.):
·Lambertsen, C.J., M.L. Gernhardt, R.G. Miller,
and E. Hopkin. Development of decompression procedures. Based
upon integrated analytic models of tissue gas bubble dynamics and oxygen
tolerance, Environmental Biomedical Research Data Center Report No.
28.7.92, Institute for Environmental Medicine, University of
Pennsylvania Medical Center.
J. Lambertsen, M.D., D.Sc. (Hon)
Dr. Christian J.
Lambertsen received a B.S. Degree from Rutgers University in 1938 and a
M.D. Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1943. During his
medical school period, he invented and first used forms of the initial
U.S. self-contained closed circuit oxygen rebreathing apparatus, for
neutral buoyancy underwater swimming and diving. As a student, he aided
the early Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) in establishing the
first cadres of U.S. military operational combat swimmers. Dr.
Lambertsen became an U.S. Army medical officer on graduation from
medical school in early 1943, and immediately joined the O.S.S. Maritime
Unit on active duty through its period of function in World War II.
Responsibilities included OSS “Operational Swimmer Group” training and
developing O.S.S. tactical functions combining self-contained diving and
swimmer delivery, using a British one-man wet submersible. During the
post World War II period, he trained U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army
Engineers, and U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team cadres for submerged
operations methods, including composite fleet submarine / operational
swimmers activity. He joined the University of Pennsylvania Medical
Faculty in 1946, and became Professor of Pharmacology in 1952. While a
faculty member he combined diving research and further underwater
rebreathing equipment developments for the Army and Navy. These
activities included additional oxygen and mixed gas circuit rebreathing
apparatus for potential use by military combat simmers and in underwater
explosive ordinance disposal activity. Throughout the 1950's Dr.
Lambertsen served with several research advisory groups responding to
the needs of the Department of Defense, Navy Undersea Warfare, and NASA
Programs. Beginning in 1964, he developed the University of
Pennsylvania’s formal Institute for Environmental Medicine (IFEM) and
established it’s companion Environmental Biomedical Stress Data Center (EBSDC),
for international use in research relating human physiological stresses
and capabilities in the environments of high altitude, undersea and
aerospace activity. In 1967 he served as Founding President of the
Undersea Medical Society (now Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society.)
He has served in industrial technologic development functions in diving
and aerospace fields as Life Science and Medical Advisor to
McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft Corporation’s Mercury-Gemini Programs (1960
to 1967), Union Carbide Corp. (1960 to 1968), Air Products and
Chemicals, Inc. (1973 to 1987), and Undersea Medical Advisor to Solus
Ocean Systems, Inc. (1975 to 1983) and Sub-Sea International, Inc. (1983
to 1998). As a result of his pioneering work with the Office of
Strategic Services and U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Teams throughout
the 1940’s and 1950’s, Dr. Lambertsen is recognized by the Naval Special
Warfare community as “The Father of U.S. Combat Swimming.” His hand has
touched every aspect of military and commercial diving. Dr. Lambertsen’s
active contributions to diving began during WWII and became even more
progressive in the post-war period through the evolutions of the U.S.
Navy Deep Submergence and Naval Special Warfare developmental programs.
He continues the University of Pennsylvania roles of Founding Director
of the IFEM and the EBSDC and Professor of Environmental Medicine and
serves on the U.S. Special Operations Command Medical Advisory Panel
(MAP) for the Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS).