Five institutions will join the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) -- of which MIT is a founding member -- in its efforts to solve the medical problems encountered during long-term space flight.
"The NSBRI represents a unique effort in collaborative science, with basic science researchers from leading institutions joining with NASA in human space exploration," said Dr. Larry Young, NSBRI director and Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at MIT. "While their work will help solve the untoward effects of space flight, the research will undoubtedly also impact similar conditions on Earth, such as osteoporosis, balance disorders, shift-related sleep difficulties and immune system problems."
The new NSBRI members are Brookhaven National Laboratory, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the University of Washington.
The Institute's current research program, consisting of 41 projects, focuses on eight areas -- bone loss; cardiovascular alterations; immunology, infection and hematology; muscle changes; balance problems; human performance and sleep; radiation effects; and technology development. Four new research areas -- neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors; nutrition, physical fitness and rehabilitation; smart medical systems; and integrated human function -- will be added in the next year.
The NSBRI was established in April 1997 following competitive selection by NASA. It leads a national effort to carry out the research necessary to assure safe human exploration of space. Its founding members are Baylor College of Medicine (which serves as headquarters), Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Applied Physics Laboratory, MIT, Morehouse School of Medicine, Rice University and Texas A&M University.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 20, 1999.