The John B. Pierce Laboratory

Ethan R. Nadel receives highest award, the Honor Award, posthumously from The American Physiological Society

Professor Ethan R. Nadel received the highest award, the Honor Award, posthumously from the Exercise and Environmental Physiology Section at this year’s American Physiological Society Summit in Long Beach, California.

Professor Nadel was an authority in human thermoregulation during exercise and heat exposure. He spent much of his research career studying the mechanisms by which people attain physical fitness through exercise training and become acclimatized to heat exposure. He was particularly interested in the factors that govern the regulation of blood volume and their effects on physical performance and heat tolerance. He also had an interest in the problems of physical fitness and aging, and for many years ran a study in conjunction with Heritage Village Retirement community in Southbury, Connecticut, studying the impact of exercise training on health and function in older adults.

Professor Nadel contributed the physiological components of the M.I.T. Daedalus Project in 1986, which took human-powered flight to a new level with a successful non-stop flight in 1988 between the Aegean islands of Crete and Santorini. He trained and chose the “engine” or athlete, in this case, to successfully power a lightweight aircraft built by the MIT engineers to recreate Daedalus’ journey, described by Gary Dorsey in his book The Fullness of Wings.

During his tenure as director of the Pierce Laboratory from 1989 to 1998, Professor Nadel planned and oversaw an expansion and major renovation of the laboratory’s facilities and was instrumental in the growth of the research staff to a level of 25 scientists and postdoctoral associates. He also strengthened the relationship between the laboratory and Yale School of Medicine, paving the way for many medical and graduate students to complete significant portions of their training using Pierce facilities and expertise.  The current dean of YSM, Nancy Brown, trained with Professor Nadel.

A native of the Washington, D.C. area, Professor Nadel received a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and a Ph.D. in environmental physiology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He then undertook postdoctoral studies at the Pierce Laboratory and subsequently was appointed assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine in 1970.

Dr. Nadel’s daughters, Dana Nadel and Maya Bergamasco receive the APS Environment and Exercise Physiology Section Honor award in their father’s honor.

Professor Nadel was a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.  He was a national lecturer for the Sigma Xi Society, a member of the American Physiological Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Harry G. Armstrong Society.  He was a Lecturer for the Aerospace Medical Association in 1991. He chaired the program committee of the American Physiological Society and served on APS Council. He served also on the board of trustees of the American College of Sports Medicine from 1982-85 and was a scientific consultant to the Gatorade Division of the Quaker Oats Co.

Professor Nadel was to be the Edward F. Adolph Distinguished Lecturer of the American Physiological Society at its April meeting in 1999. He was also to receive a Citation Award from the American College of Sports Medicine at its annual meeting in June 1999.  Professor Nadel authored more than 150 scientific papers and edited three monographs on exercise and thermoregulation in addition to numerous chapters on in these subjects.

With the Honor award, the Environmental and Exercise Physiology Section recognizes a previous or current primary member of the EEP Section who is 60 years of age or older and has made significant research contributions to the scientific advancement of environmental, exercise, thermal, or applied physiology and has been a collegial citizen of the EEP.

Dr. Nina Stachenfeld, Dr. Gary Mack  and Dana Nadel gave 5 minute tributes to Dr. Nadel during the ceremony in his honor during the EEP business meeting, attended by over 300 hundred members of APS in addition to 17 members of Ethan’s family, including his three brothers, his daughters and his granddaughter.