RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – RTI International will lead a consortium of more than 25 North Carolina-based organizations whose aim is to provide human performance solutions to the United States Department of Defense.

Those include preventing injuries, increasing injury recovery time, enhancing physical and mental performance, and maintaining performance in stressful environments, according to a statement from RTI International announcing the initiative.

The consortium will be called the North Carolina Center for Optimizing Military Performance, or NC-COMP, and is comprised of academic, industry, and governmental organizations based in the state, according to the statement.

Members include RTI International, the 16-institution University of North Carolina System, SAS, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, NUFABRX, First Flight Venture Center, and others.

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“To optimize military performance, it is important to consider how physical, cognitive, and psychological health factors influence the overall well-being of Service members,” said Dennis McGurk, an expert in military medical research and development at RTI who spent more than 25 years in the U.S. Army, in a statement.  “Service members are subjected to an enormous amount of stress at home station, during training and while on deployments, and how they handle those stressors has a direct influence on mission effectiveness.”

According to the initiative’s website, existing programs focused on human performance identify areas to improve but lack technical assistance to implement effectively.  “These programs primarily target individual elements of performance rather than addressing the whole human as a physical-mental system,” the website reads.  “Reports and articles can identify that sleep deprivation and alcoholism, for example, affect performance but lack the capabilities to address these issues with service members on a day-to-day basis.”

The consortium of partners will collaborate, thereby accelerating the creation and deployment of human performance systems that “fill critical performance gaps,” the website states.

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The launch of the initiative follows a study conducted by RTI International last year, the organization noted.  In that study, conducted on behalf of the Defense Alliance of North Carolina, RTI concluded that North Carolina has potential for growth through the awarding of defense contracts while also ranking among the fastest growing states for developing technology that could be of interest to the Department of Defense.

“One of the most unique advantages of establishing this type of operation in North Carolina is that we have all the critical ingredients for success,” said Kathie Sidner, director of defense and military partnerships at the University of North Carolina System, in a statement. “World-renowned universities and research organizations, innovative high-tech companies, and thousands of operational military ‘end users’ — all within a short driving distance.”

The initiative will host a virtual launch event on Sept. 16 from 1-2 p.m. ET.