USF Associate Professor Joseph Dituri will analyze data gathered throughout the mission to determine how long-term exposure to pressure impacts the human body and if it can prevent diseases associated with aging.
KEY LARGO, Fla. (June 9, 2023) – A University of South Florida associate professor’s 100-day mission is now complete – successfully reaching uncharted territory for science and setting a new world record for living underwater, previously set at 73 days. Joseph Dituri, also known as Dr. Deep Sea, resurfaced this morning from a 100-square-foot habitat located 22 feet underwater in Key Largo. He was greeted by friends and family, media and strangers who’ve been following his journey. Dituri’s team of doctors was also on standby, ready to immediately perform his first round of medical testing on land.
“The human body has never been underwater that long,” Dituri said. “This experience has changed me in important ways, and my greatest hope is that I have inspired a new generation of explorers and researchers to push past all boundaries.”
On March 1, the 55-year-old biomedical engineer set out on the multifaceted research project to learn more about the effects of hyperbaric pressure on the human body. He hopes this research will be useful in treating a broad spectrum of illnesses, including traumatic brain injuries. Dituri’s hypothesis that led him to this project: Increased pressure has the potential to help humans live longer and prevent diseases associated with aging.
He’s already discovered one change to his body – the pressure caused him to shrink a half-inch. At the time of his departure, he was 6 feet, 1 inch tall.
Other preliminary scientific findings include:
- REM sleep: While living undersea, Dituri slept in 60-66% in REM sleep consistently, compared to 40% prior.
- Cholesterol: While living undersea, Dituri’s cholesterol dropped 72 points and remained low.
- Inflammatory markers: While living undersea, all of Dituri’s inflammatory markers decreased by 30% and remained low.
Over the next several months, Dituri and his medical team will analyze data collected before, during and after his mission. Dituri plans to present his results at the World Extreme Medicine Conference in Scotland in November.
“Dr. Dituri’s amazing accomplishment is a great testimony to significant advances in knowledge and translational research that we are making here at USF in the area of bariatric medicine,” said Distinguished USF Professor Robert Frisina, chair of the Department of Medical Engineering. “Much important data has been collected over the past 100 days that will eventually find its way to key preventative and curative clinical procedures.”
During the 14 weeks he was underwater, Dituri virtually taught a biomedical engineering course at USF. He also conducted 124 online interactions, engaging with more than 5,500 students from 15 countries to bring the message of STEM discovery to students of all ages. More than 60 people visited Dituri undersea, including his mother and brother, 26 MarineLab young explorers, and a handful of scientists.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, a high-impact research university dedicated to student success and committed to community engagement, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. With campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF serves approximately 50,000 students who represent nearly 150 different countries. For four consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked USF as one of the nation’s top 50 public universities, including USF’s highest ranking ever in 2023 (No. 42). In 2023, USF became the first public university in Florida in nearly 40 years to be invited to join the Association of American Universities, a prestigious group of the leading universities in the United States and Canada. Through hundreds of millions of dollars in research activity each year and as one of top universities in the world for securing new patents, USF is a leader in solving global problems and improving lives. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.