NASA, NSBRI Select Proposals to Support Astronaut Health on Long Duration Space Exploration Missions

Houston, April 29, 2016. NASA’s Human Research Program and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) will fund 27 proposals to help answer questions about astronaut health and performance during future long duration missions beyond low Earth orbit.  The selected proposals will investigate the impact of the space environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including visual impairment, behavioral health and performance, bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular alterations, human factors and performance, sensorimotor adaptation and the development and application of smart medical systems and technologies. All of the selected projects will contribute towards NASA’s long-term plans, such as those planned for the journey to Mars.

The Program and NSBRI work together to address the practical problems of spaceflight that impact astronaut health and their research may provide knowledge and technologies that could improve human health and performance during space exploration and develop potential countermeasures for problems experienced during space travel. The organizations’ goals are to help astronauts complete their challenging missions successfully and to preserve their long-term health.

These investigations will take place on the International Space Station as well as in ground-analog settings that mimic the spaceflight environment. Among those studies, Dr. Ashley Weaver, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest University, will measure changes in astronauts’ vertebrae and spinal muscles before and after long duration spaceflight.

Dr. Lori Ploutz-Snyder, Lead Scientist for Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures at NASA Johnson Space Center, will characterize the relationship between gravitational dose and acute physiologic responses of the cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, ocular, muscular, and sensorimotor systems using parabolic flight.

Dr. Michael Bailey, Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, will refine methods to treat kidney stones in crewmembers participating in long duration spaceflight missions.

The selected proposals are from 19 institutions in 11 states and will receive a total of approximately $12 million during a one- to three-year period. The 27 projects were selected from 131 proposals received in response to the research announcements entitled, “Research and Technology Development to Support Crew Health and Performance in Space Exploration Missions” and “NASA’s Human Research Program Artificial Gravity Opportunity.” Science and technology experts from academia, government and industry reviewed the proposals. NASA will manage 20 of the projects and NSBRI will manage seven. Ten of the investigators are new to both organizations, and two of the selected projects will be jointly funded by the Human Research Program and NASA’s Space Biology Program.

The Human Research Program quantifies crew health and performance risks during spaceflight and develops strategies that mission planners and system developers can use to monitor and mitigate these risks. These studies often lead to advancements in understanding and treating illnesses in patients on Earth.

NSBRI is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute’s science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States.

For information about NSBRI’s science, technology and career development programs, visit

The complete list of the selected proposals, principal investigators and organizations is below:

  • Michael Bailey, University Of Washington, Seattle, “A Phantom and Test Bed to Enhance Kidney Stone Comminution by Therapeutic Ultrasound”
  • Laura Barger, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Environmental Factors Associated with Sleep Deficiency During Spaceflight”
  • Laura Barger, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “The Impact of Objectively Measured Sleep Deficiency and Circadian Misalignment on Performance During Spaceflight”
  • Silvia Blemker, University of Virginia, “Development of a Muscle Adaptation in Space-Flight Simulator”
  • Susan Bloomfield, Texas A&M University, “Mitigating Radiation-Induced Bone Loss via Dietary Modulation of Inflammatory Cytokines”
  • Lung-Chi Chen, New York University School of Medicine, “Adverse Cardiopulmonary Effects of Exposure to Extraterrestrial Dusts – Implications for Space Travel”
  • Christopher Ethier, Georgia Institute of Technology, “VIIP Simulations of CSF, Hemodynamics and Ocular Risk”
  • Karen Feigh, Georgia Institute of Technology, “Objective Function Allocation Method for Human-Automation/Robotic Interaction using Work Models that Compute”
  • Stephen Fiore, University Of Central Florida, “Macrocognition in Teams:  Examining and Developing Team Cognitive Processes and Products in the Context of Long Duration Exploration Missions”
  • Ute Fischer, Georgia Institute of Technology, “Understanding Key Components of Successful Autonomous Space Missions”
  • Charles Fuller, University of California, Davis, “Partial-Gravity Dose Response: Roles of Vestibular Input and Sex in Response to Artificial Gravity”
  • Jeffrey Hoffman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Quantifying and Preventing EVA Injury in Exploration Environments”
  • Vera Khokhlova, University Of Washington, Seattle, “Development and Validation of Therapeutic Ultrasound for Bloodless Surgery in Clinical Simulation in an Analog Environment”
  • Steve Kozlowski, Michigan State University, “Team Cohesion Monitoring Badge: Development of Galvanic Skin Resistance Modality”
  • David Martin, NASA Johnson Space Center, “Autonomous Diagnostic Imaging Performed by Untrained Operators Using Augmented Reality as a Form of ‘Just-in-Time’ Training”
  • Christopher Mason, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, “An Integrated Framework for Characterization of the Noncoding Genome and Epigenome in Astronauts”
  • Anne McLaughlin, North Carolina State University, “Creating a Taxonomy of Variables Affecting Cognitive Aid Design via an Investigation of Hybrid Aids”
  • Jeevan Perera, NASA Johnson Space Center, “NextGen Crew Countermeasure Software for Exploration Mission Support”
  • Lori Ploutz-Snyder, NASA Johnson Space Center, “Gravitational Dose and Multi-System Physiologic Response”
  • Brinda Rana, University Of California, San Diego, “Identification of Functional Metabolomic Profiles Contributing to Physiological Adaptations to Simulated Spaceflight”
  • Seward Rutkove, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “Musculoskeletal Response to a Partial-Gravity Analog in Rats: Structural, Functional and Molecular Alterations”
  • Ann-Sofie Schreurs, NASA Ames Research Center, “Candidate Nutritional Countermeasure to Mitigate Adverse Effects of Spaceflight”
  • Guillaume Spielmann, Louisiana State University, “The Impact of Long Duration Spaceflight on the Function of B-cells and Biomarkers of Inflammation”
  • Michael Stenger, NASA Johnson Space Center, “Impact of +Gz and -Gz Induced Fluid Shifts on Ocular and Cerebral Parameters during Simulated Orion Re-Entry”
  • Scott Tannenbaum, The Group for Organizational Effectiveness, “A Multi-Faceted Approach to Examine Team Adaptation and Resilience within Isolated, Confined, and Extreme Environments”
  • Ashley Weaver, Wake Forest University, “Quantitative CT and MRI-based Modeling Assessment of Dynamic Vertebral Strength and Injury Risk Following Long-Duration Spaceflight”
  • Steven Yule, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Developing and Validating Specific Medical Event Management Training Protocols for Flight Crews on Deep Space, Long-Duration Space Exploration Missions”

NASA Contact:

John B. Charles, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist
NASA Human Research Program

NSBRI Contact:

Graham B.I. Scott, Ph.D.
Vice President, Chief Scientist & Institute Associate Director
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)