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.


Scientist of the Month


Jessica Scott, Ph.D.Our DSLS Scientist of the Month is Jessica Scott, Ph.D. for her poster, “Temporal Changes in Left Ventricular Mechanics: Impact of Bed Rest and Exercise,” which was presented at the 2014 Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, held in Galveston, Texas.


Current techniques used to assess cardiac function following spaceflight or head-down tilt bed rest (HDTBR) involve invasive and time consuming procedures such as Swan-Ganz catheterization or cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. An alternative approach, echocardiography, can monitor cardiac morphology and function via sequential measurements of left ventricular (LV) mass and ejection fraction (EF). However, LV mass and EF are insensitive measures of early (subclinical) cardiac deconditioning, and a decrease in LV mass and EF become evident only once significant deconditioning has already occurred.


Previously Featured Scientists of the Month




Lori Ploutz-Snyder, Ph.D. is our Scientist of the Month for her poster, “Integrated Resistance and Aerobic Exercise Protects Fitness During Bed Rest,” from a recent publication in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) flagship monthly journal.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise is the leading multidisciplinary original research journal for ACSM members. Each issue features original investigations, clinical studies and comprehensive reviews on current topics in sports medicine and exercise science.




Ronita Cromwell, Ph.D. is our Scientist of the Month for her and her team’s poster, “Long duration head-down tilt bed rest studies: safety considerations regarding vision health,” which was presented at the 2013 HRP Investigators Workshop at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas.




Our Scientist of the Month is Artem Ponomarev, Ph.D. for his poster, "Generalized time-dependent model of radiation-induced chromosomal aberrations in normal and repair-deficient human cells", which was presented at the 59th Annual Radiation Research Society Meeting in September of 2013, New Orleans, LA.


Human Health and Performance in Space


The Human Health and Performance in Space Portal is an informal collection of articles, sites and pages discussing the effects of space flight, travel and habitation on astronauts and other space flight participants.


Community Outreach Highlight


The Next Space Race - A DSLS Scientist’s Mission to Bring Exercise to Mars

Dr. Ploutz-Snyder

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Project Scientist Dr. Lori Ploutz-Snyder, a three time Ohio University alumna and Honors Tutorial College graduate, develops strategies to mitigate the debilitating physiologic effects of long-term spaceflight. Her team’s work is of particular importance as NASA continues research on a three-year mission to Mars. Read more.


NASA Space Radiation


Humans In Space Youth Art Competition

A Message from the Director

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 32 scientists from many disciplines within life sciences. DSLS provides an excellent working environment for collegial intellectual exchange.


Dr. Neal R. Pellis, Director

Research Projects


Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger

UTMB Health Aerospace Medicine Grand Rounds

Testosterone Deficiency in Men

Glenn R. Cunningham, M.D.

Professor of Medicine and Molecular & Cellular Biology

Director, SLEH-BCM Diabetes Program

Baylor College of Medicine

April 22, 2014
8:00 a.m. CDT

Broadcast Live from USRA

3600 Bay Area Blvd., Houston Texas
Webcast: To view Grand Rounds using a PC, download the latest version of Apple Quick Time Player, reboot and enter URL –


Video Highlights

HRP Spaceflight Analogs
Optic nerve compression


USRA Quarterly Display

Click here to view the presentation