Space is a unique environment, capable of exerting different types of mental and physical stress on the human body. Research must continue to be conducted to advance the health of space travelers. Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine (CSM) recognizes that sharing research and expertise on space health and medicine beyond geographical borders through innovation can provide further benefits to travelers and to those of us on Earth.
Some of CSM’s international partnerships to encourage space health research and collaboration include the Korea National Institute of Health (KNIH), the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), and the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO).
Korea National Institute of Health
Our partnership with the KNIH allows collaboration focused on space health research, mental health issues related to space travel, food supply for long-duration travel, the harmful effects of radiation, and the development of remote en-suite medical care. The recently signed memorandum of understanding hopes to improve human health and performance not only in space but also on Earth. Applying such innovations to life on Earth holds tremendous potential at the international level.
Australian Antarctic Division
The AAD will begin a collaboration between the Polar Medicine Unit and CSM’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH). The AAD-TRISH alliance will center on behavioral challenges, specifically extreme isolation and autonomous care. The investigations undertaken can find ways to deliver healthcare solutions to remote communities on Earth and space travelers, as both experience the commonality of extreme environments.
Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation
The Center for Space Medicine is participating in a grant awarded to the CSEO through Dr. Dorit Donoviel’s role as a co-investigator. This multifaceted effort includes computational analysis and predictive modeling to understand space weather impacts on technology and biological entities, such as organs-on-a-chip. This effort also involves research to advance a potential future organ-on-a-chip payload technology informed by studying large healthcare datasets. Collaborations like the ones TRISH and CSM partake in are key to developing space health research on Earth, benefiting more than just people who explore space. The research conducted can improve behavioral healthcare, enhance food storage/supply, develop protection(s) for radiation, and provide ways to supply medical care in remote environments autonomously. More innovations can be drawn from discoveries to improve the quality of life further here on Earth and in space.
By Esha Raut, communications fellow for the Translational Research Institute for Space Health