C. Mikael MATTSSON
Assistant professor, Åstrand Laboratory of Work Physiology The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden

I got my tenured position as assistant professor in Sports Sciences – Exercise Physiology the same year as I completed my Ph.D (2011). In the broad sense, my research interest is to find out how the body works and reacts in different sports and work physiology contexts, especially variations in individual responses. The thesis and early research articles were about ultra-endurance exercise, and how it is at all possible to compete continuously during several days (Adventure Racing). A wide range of physiological issues and questions about nutrition have already been dealt with, but the project is ongoing and deepened and developed. Right now, for example, work on the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs on performance, injury, training effect and recovery. The research area has expanded to also include ultra-running and military activities, with special emphasis on nutrition.

 

From there the natural steps were questions about how sports performance can be optimized, whether it be for someone who is untrained and wants to get started, or for the elite athlete who needs to improve to win the championship gold. A large part of the optimization is personalized training and nutrition, and we have started to develop a system of different profiles/types of people that for optimal effect should train differently. In addition to the endurance sports, I have a research interest in team sports, such as team handball and soccer, and individualized and more accurate optimization of training. Team sports require a mix of physical abilities, which means that it is not optimal to exercise all at the same time and that it is impossible for a player to be "best of everything". Different studies focus on, for example, to identify the physiological demands of match play in different divisions and then work to evaluate the appropriate test methods and training plans, both before and during the season.

 

Since 2012 I have simultaneously held a position as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine The research interest of personalization leads to genetics and a big project about the athlete's genome. I’m the managing investigator of the project called ELITE (Exercise at the Limit – Inherited Traits of Endurance). It's a study about sports genetics, with the aim to characterize the genetic determinants of human performance by studying the extreme of the distribution. Simply put, we are looking for the fittest people in the world, and try to understand what makes them great. It is an international collaboration, lead at Stanford University, and we are recruiting athletes from all over the globe (including Scandinavia, USA, UK, Spain, Japan, and Brazil) who are successful in endurance sports (such as running, cross-country skiing, triathlon, cycling, rowing).

 

Another project at Stanford is research about activity monitors and fitness trackers, basically evaluating how accurate they are and trying to incorporate the use of them in medical research.

 

Combined, my research at both universities is about optimization and individualization of exercise and physical training.