The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) will establish, fund, and operate the Center for Space Radiation Research (CSRR) under the leadership of Marjan Boerma, Ph.D. Dr. Boerma is an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences within the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy Division of Radiation Health. She is located in Little Rock, AR and will direct a team of investigators working across four U.S. institutions, to implement the 3 year and 6 million dollar mission of the CSRR.
The CSRR will build upon important discoveries made by the NSBRI Center of Acute Radiation Research (CARR) and extend them by characterizing and quantifying the effects of space radiation on living systems. The research studies, outcomes and deliverables of the CSRR will comprise the principal focus of NSBRI's Radiation Effects (RE) Team.
Operating in close partnership with NASA's Human Research Program, the CSRR will be tasked with researching the acute effects of space radiation, as well as the longer term, so-called "degenerative" effects of space radiation on the cardiovascular and circulatory systems. Accordingly, the CSRR will work to reduce the radiation related health risks that will be encountered by astronaut crew members during future missions to an asteroid, the Moon or Mars.
Graham Scott, Ph.D., NSBRI's Chief Scientist, said that "the Institute is excited about the ambitious and innovative research program that the Boerma led team will conduct over the next three years." He noted that "space radiation is the number one risk to astronaut health during deep space missions, and pioneering research employing modern technologies such as next generation sequencing is needed to close knowledge gaps and deliver operational countermeasures to NASA."
Employing rodent animal models, the CSRR will combine exposures to both protons and heavy ions, thereby more closely mimicking the radiation environment actually experienced by astronauts during deep space exploration missions. Pharmaceutical countermeasures will also be evaluated for their ability to mitigate the harmful effects of space radiation. Scientific discoveries made by the CSRR will not only enable safe and productive human exploration of space, but may also improve life on Earth.
The CSRR will employ a systems biology approach to characterize the effects of space radiation by combining physiological observations with new 21st century integrated omics techniques, such as genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. This strategy will facilitate the correlation of observed health effects with the more fundamental underlying genetic and bimolecular changes that occur in response to radiation, thereby advancing knowledge and providing possible new options for the development and deployment of radiological countermeasures.
"How ionizing radiation may modify the structure and function of the heart and blood vessels has intrigued me for many years" said Marjan Boerma, Ph.D., Associate Professor at UAMS and newly appointed Director of the CSRR. She added "our multidisciplinary team will combine functional measurements with an omics approach and studies in cell culture models to provide new insight into the cardiovascular effects of space radiation and to identify countermeasures. We are very excited to work with NSBRI on these critical research studies and contribute to the safety of human space travel."
The National Space Biomedical Research Institute, NSBRI, is a 501(c)3 organization funded by NASA. Its mission is to lead a national program to mitigate the health risks related to human spaceflight and to apply the discoveries to improve life on Earth. Annually, the Institute's science, technology and education projects take place at approximately 60 institutions and companies across the United States.
UAMS is the state's only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,865 students and 785 medical residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visitwww.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.