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.
Christian Otto, M.D., MMSc. is the DSLS Scientist of the Month for his poster, “Prospective Observational Study of Ocular Health in ISS Crews — The Ocular Health Study,” presented at the NASA Human Research Program Investigator Workshop, February 2013 in Galveston, Texas.
The Visual Impairment Intracranial Pressure (VIIP) syndrome is currently NASA’s number one human space flight risk. The syndrome, which is related to microgravity exposure, manifests with changes in visual acuity (hyperopic shifts, scotomas), changes in eye structure (optic disc edema, choroidal folds, cotton wool spots, globe flattening, and distended optic nerve sheaths). In some cases, elevated cerebrospinal fluid pressure has been documented postflight reflecting increased intracranial pressure (ICP).
Previously Featured Scientists of the Month
Jeffrey Ryder, Ph.D. has been selected as DSLS Scientist of the Month for his poster, “Comparative Analysis of Isokinetic, Isometric and Isotonic Muscle Performance Measures,” which was presented at the 2013 Human Research Investigators Workshop.
Spaceflight is associated with a loss of muscle mass, strength, power, and endurance. All current U.S. International Space Station crew perform pre- and postflight isokinetic knee extension strength testing as a medical requirement. Although isokinetic testing has a long standing history in spaceflight research, the functional relevance of the results has been questioned due to the nature of the strength testing being performed at fixed angular velocities. The aim of this investigation was to compare isokinetic strength measures to other muscle performance modalities.
Shaowen Hu, Ph.D. was selected DSLS Scientist of the Month for his poster, “A multiscale computational model of the response of swine epidermis after acute irradiation,” which was presented at the 58th Annual Radiation Research Society meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 30–October 3, 2012.
Although radiation is critical in certain medical settings and is unavoidable in other situations, large doses of radiation can be very damaging or even fatal to humans and animals. It is of great interest to be able to pre-determine levels of radiation that can be tolerated, without permanent damage, by the body. One of two ways can be used to achieve this: (1) conduct extensive experiments or (2) develop reliable computational algorithms. The purpose of this work is to introduce and test a multiscale skin model that can be used for the latter use.
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.
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 36 scientists from many disciplines within life sciences. DSLS provides an excellent working environment for collegial intellectual exchange.
Dr. Neal R. Pellis, Director
The goal of the NASA space Radiation Program is to ensure that crews can safely live and work in the space radiation environment.
NASA uses the "Aquarius" undersea habitat as a research analog for space missions to develop concepts for long-term space habitation.
In late 2010, the Institute of Medicine released new evidence-based guidelines for recommended intake levels of vitamin D.
Space travel is inherently dangerous – it can entail all kinds of medical hazards.
Changes in sensorimotor function during spaceflight are most pronounced immediately following g-transitions.
The Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures Project and the Flight Analogs Project, both led by USRA scientists.
The risk of radiation carcinogenesis from manned spaceflight is high, particularly for epithelial cancers of the lung, breast, esophagus, stomach, colon, and bladder.