NASA Selects 21 Research Proposals to Advance Human Space Exploration

NASA’s Human Research Program will fund 21 proposals to help answer questions about astronaut health and performance during future long-duration missions beyond low-Earth orbit. The selected proposals will investigate biological, physiological, and behavioral adaptations to spaceflight. The 21 selected projects will contribute to NASA’s long-term plans, which include crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.

The Human Research Program works to address the practical problems of spaceflight that impact astronaut health, and its research may provide knowledge and technologies that could improve human health and performance during space exploration and aid the development of potential countermeasures for problems experienced during space travel. The organization’s goals are to help astronauts complete their challenging missions successfully and to preserve their long-term health.

NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, Expedition 37 flight engineer, performs ultrasound eye imaging in the Columbus laboratory of the International Space Station. European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, flight engineer, assists Hopkins.

The selected investigations will take place in research laboratories on the ground and aboard the International Space Station. Among the studies, Scott Wood, senior neuroscientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will evaluate a combination of medication and sensory augmentation to both mitigate motion sickness and enhance crew performance. Rachael Seidler, professor of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, will investigate spaceflight-induced ocular changes and changes in brain structure and function in astronauts on the International Space Station. Michael O’Banion, professor of Neuroscience at the University of Rochester, New York, will explore the dose- and time-dependent effects of simulated space radiation on multiple tissue endpoints associated with normal aging.

The selected proposals are from 19 institutions in 12 states and will receive a total of approximately $19.3 million during a one- to five-year period. The 21 projects were selected from 109 proposals received in response to the 2019 Human Exploration Research Opportunities Appendices C and D.  Science and technology experts from academia, government, and industry reviewed the proposals.

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

  • Mathias Basner, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: “Long-term brain structural and functional consequences of spaceflight”
  • Eric Bershad, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston: “The long-term consequences of spaceflight on brain and eye health”
  • Dawn Bowles, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina: “Radiation resistance conferred by small proline rich repeat proteins (SPRRs)”
  • Jeffery Chancellor, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge: “Integration of in-silico and in-vivo models for determining preclinical indicators and/or integrated biomarkers of radiation-induced vascular dysfunction”
  • Torin Clark, University of Colorado, Boulder: “A non-pharmacological countermeasure suite for motion sickness induced by post-flight water landings”
  • James Driskell, Florida Maxima Corporation, New Smyrna Beach: “Dyads and triads at 140 million miles: factors affecting interpersonal relations in long-duration spaceflight”
  • Ute Fischer, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta: “Technological support for crew/Mission Control Center communication and collaboration during space exploration operations”
  • Hernan Lorenzi, J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, Maryland: “Understanding the impact of hypobaric hypoxia and confinement stress on intestinal immunity and host-microbiome interactions”
  • Brandon Macias, Johnson Space Center: “Investigating long-term structural and functional changes in the eye and brain after spaceflight”
  • Christopher Mason, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York: “The impact of spaceflight and radiation on clonal hematopoiesis”
  • Michael O’Banion, University of Rochester: “Effect of space radiation on innate immune system homeostasis drives immune and endothelial cell dysfunction and neurodegeneration”
  • Viviana Risca, Rockefeller University, New York: “Epigenetic state modulation of radiation-induced DNA damage: Nanoscale modeling and validation”
  • Seward Rutkove, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston: “Resveratrol and electrical muscle stimulation as countermeasures to preserve sensorimotor function during a 60-day head-down bedrest protocol”
  • Michael Schubert, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore: “Ground validation of self-administered incremental rehabilitation tool to mitigate motion sickness and enhance sensorimotor recovery”
  • Rachael Seidler, University of Florida: “Recovery timeline of spaceflight-induced central nervous system changes”
  • Richard Simpson, University of Arizona, Tucson: “Exercise training as countermeasure for anti-tumor immune dysregulation due to isolation and confinement stress”
  • Gary Strangman, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown: “Personalized performance optimization platform (P-POP)”
  • W. Robert Taylor, Emory University, Atlanta: “Potential role of the endothelium in internal jugular venous thrombosis due to abnormal venous flow patterns during spaceflight”
  • Kenneth Walsh, University of Virginia, Charlottesville: “Space radiation exposure and risk mediated by clonal hematopoiesis”
  • Scott Wood, Johnson Space Center: “Optimizing the combination of intranasal scopolamine and sensory augmentation to mitigate G-transition induced motion sickness and enhance sensorimotor performance”
  • Honglu Wu, Johnson Space Center: “Effects of solar particle event exposure on immune and hematopoietic functions”

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