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

 

 

Jeffrey Ryder

Jeffrey Ryder, Ph.D. is our Scientist of the Month for his poster, “A Novel Weighted Suit to Assess Ambulatory Performance Under Reduced Strength-to-Body Weight Conditions,” presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, May 29, 2015.

 

Performance outcomes of ambulatory tasks are influenced by human performance capabilities as they relate to one’s own body weight (e.g., strength to body weight). Alterations in body-weight-specific performance are relevant to situations in which performance is impaired with minimal impact to body weight (e.g., muscle deconditioning in astronauts or aging), and also conditions where total weight to be carried is increased without a corresponding increase in performance (e.g., firefighters or soldiers who are required to carry heavy gear).

 

Previously Featured Scientist of the Month

 

May

 

Sara Zwart, Ph.D. was our Scientist of the Month for her poster, “Urinary Sulfate can Predict Changes in Bone Resorption During Space Flight,” presented at the Experimental Biology Meeting, held in Boston, Massachusetts, March 28–April 1, 2015.

 

Mitigating bone loss is critical for space exploration, and diet can play a major role in this effort.  Previous studies showed that dietary composition could influence bone resorption during bed rest.  In this study we examined the role of dietary intake patterns in bone mineral loss in astronauts during space flight.

 

April

 

Our Scientist of the Month was Jessica Scott, Ph.D. for her poster, “Influence of Exercise Modality on Cerebral-Ocular Hemodynamics and Pressures,” which was presented at the HRP Investigators’ Workshop in January.

 

Exercise training is beneficial for cardiac, muscle and bone health; however, its effects on the development of visual impairment due to intracranial pressure (VIIP) remain controversial. Resistive exercise without a valsalva has been shown to increase intracranial pressure (ICP) by 3mmHg, while with a valsalva the increase is 18mmHg. Similar increases in intraocular pressure (IOP) have been observed during weight lifting.

 

 

Previously Featured as a USRA Quarterly Display


NEEMO

 

 

NEEMO 20 mission is underway!

 

 

Community Outreach Highlight

 

Space Station Live: Short, High-Intensity Exercise to Stay in Space Shape


Dr. Ploutz-Snyder


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.


NASA Space Radiation

 

Humans In Space Art Competition

Humans in Space Art

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 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

 

Please check back for information on upcoming seminars.

 

 

Research Projects

 

Digital AstronautThe Digital Astronaut Project

Applying Computational Modelling to Preserve the Health of Astronauts

 

 

 

 

Video Highlights

HRP Spaceflight Analogs
 
Optic nerve compression

 


Human Health and Performance in Space

Human Health and Performance in SpaceThe 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.

Featured Books

Space PharmacologySpace Pharmacology, written by DSLS Senior Scientist Virginia E. Wotring, Ph.D., is a review of the current knowledge and use of pharmaceuticals during spaceflight.  It provides a comprehensive study of the literature, addressing each area of pharmacokinetics and all major physiological systems in turn. 

 

Dr. Wotring is Pharmacology Discipline Lead at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Human Heath and Countermeasures Division.

 

Human Adaptation to Spaceflight: The Role of Nutrition was co-authored by DSLS scientist Sara R. Zwart, Ph.D.  (excerpt) “The importance of nutrition in exploration has been documented repeatedly throughout history, on voyages across oceans, on expeditions across polar ice, and on treks across unexplored continents.”  In this book, key areas of nutrition concerns during spaceflight, including loss of body mass and depletion of body nutrient stores, are reviewed in general and in detail with respect to the role of nutrition and specific nutrients.  Existing knowledge is highlighted as well as gaps where additional research is needed.

 

Dr. Zwart is a Senior Scientist at USRA and the Deputy Manager for Nutritional Biochemistry at the Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.