Since 1969, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), a private, nonprofit corporation, has worked closely with NASA. USRA's Division of Space Biomedicine was founded in 1983 to address the biomedical issues faced by humans in space. Harrison Schmitt, lunar module pilot of Apollo 17, was named as the first Director of the Division. In late 1990, the Division was renamed the Division of Space Life Sciences (DSLS) reflecting a broader charter: "to stimulate, encourage, and assist research in the NASA life sciences." This charter continues today and is encapsulated within three broad programs: the Science Program, the Extramural Support Program and the Education Program.
Our Scientist of the Month for February is Johnny Conkin, Ph.D. for his poster, “Designing an Exploration Atmosphere Prebreathe Protocol,” which was presented at the 2015 Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, January 13–15 in Galveston, Texas.
Extravehicular activities (EVAs) at remote locations must maximize limited oxygen (O2) resources and minimize the risk of decompression sickness (DCS). The proposed denitrogenation protocol requires subjects to live in a mildly hypoxic atmosphere at 8.2 psia while performing repetitive EVAs at 4.3 psia. Empirical data are required to confirm that any new protocol meets accept requirements: ≤ 15% incidence of Type I DCS, ≤ 20% incidence of Grade IV venous gas emboli (VGE), both at 95% statistical confidence, with no Type II DCS symptoms.
Previously Featured Scientist of the Month
Our Scientist of the Month for January was Ronita Cromwell, Ph.D. for her poster, “Ocular Outcomes Comparison Between 14- and 70-day Head-down Tilt Bed Rest,” which was presented at the 2015 Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, January 13–15 in Galveston, Texas. DSLS team members named on this poster are: Drs. Susana Zanello, Patrice Yarbough, and Rob Ploutz-Snyder.
Ophthalmological changes have been recently reported in some astronauts involved in long-duration space missions. Elevated intracranial pressure resulting from μG-induced cephalad fluid shifts may be responsible for most of these findings. Further Head Down Tilt Bed Rest (HDTBR) studies with different duration and/or angle of tilt and/or environmental conditions (e.g., high CO2 exposure during HDTBR) may help determine the validity of the HDTBR analog to investigate microgravity-induced ophthalmological changes distance and near visual acuity was 20/20 or better pre- and post-HDTBR in all subjects.
Public Affairs Office Amiko Kauderer interviews Lori L. Ploutz-Snyder, lead investigator of the long-running Sprint VO2 exercise experiment. The study investigates high-intensity, low duration exercise techniques on the space station using a resistance device, an exercise bike and a treadmill. Watch the video.
Welcome to the Division of Space Life Sciences (DSLS) at USRA Houston. As part of a non-profit entity, DSLS has the mission to support NASA and other Federal entities by conducting and managing research that addresses the risks to humans before, during, and after space exploration. DSLS provides high profile scientists, physicians, collaborators, and science managers to the NASA Space Life Sciences Directorate and the Human Research Program (HRP). Additionally, DSLS conducts and hosts major science meetings, seminars, and workshops. The full-time scientist team is made up of 19 scientists from many disciplines within life sciences. DSLS provides an excellent working environment for collegial intellectual exchange.
Dr. Neal R. Pellis, Director
UTMB Aerospace Medicine Grand Rounds
Monthly Aerospace Medicine Grand Rounds seminars
are held at USRA Houston on the 4th Tuesday of each month (January– October).
Please check back for information on upcoming seminars.