Unity through Knowledge Fund 1B Project Report


Project title: Physiology of SCUBA diving


Project leaders: Zeljko Dujic, MD, PhD; Petar Denoble, MD, PhD


Duration of the project: 24 months


Call: 1B – Crossing Borders


Home institution: University of Split School of Medicine


Project budget: 1.110.375 HRK


Other organizations involved:

Divers Alert Network, The Peter B. Benett Center, 6 West Colony Place, Durham, NC 27705 USA, http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/index.asp


Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Olav Kyrres gt. 9, 7489 Trondheim, Norway, http://www.ntnu.no/isb


Project summary: The project entitled “Physiology of SCUBA diving” was awarded to Drs. Zeljko Dujic and Petar Denoble from the Unity through Knowledge Fund of the Croatian Ministry of Science. The project commenced in February 2009 and it was successfully completed in January 2011. It represented a collaborative effort of investigators from Department of Physiology at University of Split School of Medicine, Diving Alert Network, a central international organization dealing with diving safety, Duke University, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Hannover Medical School, and Antwerp University Hospital. Besides answering important scientific questions, this project also helped to form a tight network of researchers across the globe that share same research interests. Moreover, this project served as a framework for education of young scientists and helped them establishing their own fields of research, thus supporting further development of Croatian science. One of the goals in this project was to further investigate the mechanisms that cause appearance of physiological changes in human body resulting from SCUBA diving, especially in cardiovascular system. Along this line, we examined whether intense diving over many years has any chronic negative effects on cardiovascular function. Lastly, the largely unknown effects of extreme diving on cardiovascular system were also explored. The end point of this project was to understand the impact of diving on human health and to identify the procedures and mechanisms that reduce the risks associated with diving.


Achieved milestones:


Novel methodologies introduced:

  1. Blood nitrite measurement.
  2. Endothelial progenitor cells (number and functional tests).
  3. Flow-mediated dilation using special holder and software.
  4. Cutting edge echocardiographic analysis using EchoPack software and Vivid q ultrasound.
  5. Contrast echocardiography for assessment of PFO and IP shunts.
  6. Muscle sympathetic nerver activity (MSNA).


International projects submitted:

  1. REGPOT 2010 (4 million €, not funded, resubmission planned for 2011. Integration of Medical School, Hospital, Industry, International collaborators)
  2. FP7 MC ITN Phypode (funded 2010, 3 million €, 230.000 € to USSM)
  3. Norwegian Labor Directorate project (funded; 50 000 €)
  4. US Navy project (submitted; 70.000 US$ as a pilot for 450-500.000 US$)
  5. MARES project – project with partner from industry (negotiation in February 2011)




Ph.D. students:

  1. Duska Glavas, 2010 (Completed)
  2. Jaksa Zanchi
  3. Nada Bilopavlovic
  4. Svein-Erik Gaustad (international student from Norway)
  5. Approved student position through Marie Curie ITN Phypode project




International collaboration – visits to Split:

  1. Prof. Brubakk (NTNU)
  2. Dr. Denoble (DAN)
  3. Prof. Wisloff (NTNU)
  4. Dr. Eftedal (NTNU)
  5. Dr. Mollerloken (NTNU)
  6. Dr. Gerth (US Navy)
  7. Dr. Pollock (Duke University)
  8. S. Gaustad (NTNU)
  9. Dr. Losiewicz (US Navy)
  10. Dr. Van Craenenbroeck (Antwerp University Hospital)
  11. Dr. Sieber (IMEGO)
  12. Prof. Forster (MCW)
  13. LCDR Swiergosz (US Navy)
  14. Dr. Johnson (Mayo clinic)


International collaboration – visits from Split:

  1. Dr. Dujic to The German Sport University (DSHS) (Dr. Hoffman), The French Underwater Federation/Andre Grousset (Toulon), NTNU (dr Brubakk)
  2. Drs. Dujic, Ljubkovic and Breskovic to University of Western Ontario (Dr. Shoemaker, London, Canada) and Cleveland Clinic Foundation (Drs. Roizen and Golubic, USA)
  3. Dr. Modun to Hannover Medical School (Dr. Tetzlaff)
  4. Dr. Cikes-Culic to Antwerp University Hospital (Dr. Conraads)
  5. Drs. Breskovic and Obad to Liverpool (Course for ultrasound/FMD analysis)
  6. Dr. Obad and Bakovic to NTNU (Dr. Wisloff)


International partners:

  1. DAN (Deep diving field studies; Expert advice)
  2. NTNU (Animal studies; Genetic studies)
  3. Duke University
  4. Hannover Medical School
  5. Antwerp University Hospital


Involved personnel from USSM: