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IHMC and Andrews Research and Education Foundation announce partnership to conduct research projects

Pensacola’s cutting-edge research center The Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) and the Andrews Research & Education Foundation (AREF), the research arm of the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, have signed an agreement to collaborate on human-performance research.

“We’re really fortunate to have two world leaders in human-performance right here in our community,” said Ken Ford, co-founder and CEO of IHMC. “This partnership is going to leverage the work of both organizations for the benefit of sports medicine as well as programs geared toward improving the capabilities and resilience of astronauts, fighter pilots, divers and other elite members of our military.”

IHMC and AREF will share office and lab space at their Pensacola and Gulf Breeze facilities. The scientists and doctors will collaborate on research into areas ranging from optimizing physical and cognitive performance to developing technologies aimed at helping high-performing humans like professional athletes, astronauts and fighter pilots.

“People here at AREF are thrilled they’ll be able to work with IHMC in areas that will help us with neurosurgery, neuroscience, ophthalmology and, of course, sports medicine,” said Ashton Hayward, president of Andrews Research & Education Foundation.

IHMC is a not-for-profit research institute that has grown into one of the world’s premier research organizations. Its scientists and engineers investigate a broad range of scientific and technological topics with the goal of amplifying and extending human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience. In particular, IHMC has been a leader in AI, robotics, and human performance in extreme environments. The Pensacola-headquartered research institute is part of the Florida University System with a branch in Ocala.

AREF is the research arm of the Andrews Institute, the nation’s premier orthopaedics and sports medicine center. Andrews Institute is part of Baptist Health Care and was founded by Dr. James Andrews, an orthopaedic surgeon known for treating knee, elbow and shoulder injuries as well as repairing damaged ligaments. He has helped treat injuries and revive the careers of numerous high-profile athletes such as Drew Brees, Bo Jackson, Roger Clemens, Jerry Pate, Jack Nicklaus, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan.

Hayward, who spent eight years as mayor of Pensacola before joining AREF in January, said the mission is to help educate the public and further research into the areas of orthopaedics, human performance, injury prevention, technology as well as surgical and biomedical enhancement.

“Most people are aware of the clinical work we do with athletes,” said Hayward. “But it’s not as well known that we also do a lot of work with active-duty members of the special- operations community. We provide them physical therapy, performance training and nutritional support.”

It was this work with the special-operations community that particularly drew the interest of IHMC Research Scientist Dawn Kernagis.

“As we have expanded our research into biological ways to extend the capabilities and resilience of high-performing humans in the military, especially those who have to operate in extreme conditions, a partnership with AREF made perfect sense,” said Dr. Kernagis, who leads a dozen members of IHMC’s bio-medical team.

Immediate plans include IHMC and AREF personnel working together on current ongoing research projects as well as developing proposals for future projects and grants.

For more information on AREF visit: https://www.andrewsref.org