News Releases



Space research institute names new class of postdoctoral fellows
2/17/2011
Four young scientists are now conducting research to help protect astronaut health. The researchers are recipients of postdoctoral fellowships awarded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI).

The two-year program offers fellows the opportunity to manage their own space-related biomedical research project while continuing to learn from an experienced faculty mentor. Participants receive a $40,000 stipend per year and funds to cover health insurance and travel to NSBRI-related meetings.

"NSBRI has added some of the brightest young scientists the United States has to offer. These new fellows will have a role in the Institute's efforts to protect astronaut health and to improve health care on Earth," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Sutton, NSBRI director.

The 2010-2012 NSBRI postdoctoral fellows, their institutions and mentors are:

Devendra Bajaj, Ph.D., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
Mentor: J. Christopher Fritton, Ph.D.
Gwendolen E. Haley, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University
Mentor: Jacob Raber, Ph.D.
Andrea M. Hanson, Ph.D., University of Washington
Mentor: Peter R. Cavanagh, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Christopher J. Morris, Ph.D., Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Mentor: Frank A.J.L. Scheer, Ph.D.
Each fellow has been assigned to one of NSBRI's seven research teams. Bajaj and Hanson are conducting research to help reduce bone loss in astronauts during spaceflight. Haley is studying radiation effects on brain function, and Morris is looking at the effects of sudden shifts in astronaut sleep/wake patterns on the cardiovascular system.

"The interaction with NSBRI-funded researchers located around the country allows the fellows to build a strong research foundation in space life sciences and set the stage for future scientific endeavors," Sutton said.

During their award period, the fellows are required to attend the Summer Bioastronautics Institute at NSBRI Headquarters at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. This institute will emphasize essential skills needed for a successful scientific research career. Topics will include strategies for developing and presenting effective presentations, using media to share key scientific messages, building mentor partnerships and networks, translating research findings to inspire learners, educators and the public, and developing successful grant applications. The latest research discoveries from NSBRI investigators will also be presented.
NSBRI solicits applications annually. Applicants submit research project proposals to investigate a solution to a space health risk or to develop a technology needed to enable research or medical care in space. The research must involve a mentor and be carried out at a U.S. laboratory doing space-related biomedical or biotechnological research.

Applications are reviewed for scientific and technical merit by an independent review panel and by NSBRI management to ensure relevance to the Institute's research program goals. Also, a competitive third-year fellowship is available.
Funded by NASA, NSBRI studies the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight with peer-reviewed science, technology and education projects at more than 60 institutions across the United States.

The Institute's science and technology projects address bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular changes, balance and orientation, radiation exposure, neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors, remote medical care and related technologies, and habitability and performance issues such as sleep cycles and lunar dust exposure. Research findings also impact the understanding and treatment of similar medical conditions experienced on Earth.

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Brad Thomas
NSBRI
713-798-7595
rbthomas@bcm.edu