21 Apr 2015

Lessons for human health from animals

From Nine To Noon, 10:06 am on 21 April 2015

Harlow pic
Gallery: Hank Harlow and wild animals

Professor Hank Harlow is a zoologist and animal physiologist whose research looks at lessons for human health learned from animals. He spent twenty years as the Director of the University of Wyoming's National Park Research Centre.

In the course of his research he has literally crawled into a den of sleeping bears, studying how the animals adapt to survive extreme cold. This hibernation research is being used by NASA to explore how astronauts could preserve muscles during space travel, but also has applications for coma or long term bed rest patients.

He's also studied muscle performance by free ranging Komodo dragons in Indonesia and hibernating ground squirrels in the rocky mountains.

Professor Harlow says black bears in particular are a tremendous model for biomimicry, and could also shed light on human obesity, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, bone loss and memory loss.

Hank Harlow talks to Kathryn Ryan.