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Center for Space Medicine

Elective Courses

Master
Content

Introduction to Human Space Exploration and Medicine (MESPM 610)

Students can take this course in the Spring/MS1 Term 4 (0.5 credit).  This course is required for the Space Medicine Pathway.

The course consists of nine lectures given by center faculty and external experts. The educational objectives are:

  • Introduce students to knowledge about biomedical risks and human adaptation associated with space travel
  • Provide information on how the unique environment of space, including reduced gravity
  • Describe scientific research, new technologies and medical approaches to decrease risks for human space exploration
  • Teach students about interdisciplinary approaches for solving biomedical problems arising on international space missions
  • Expose students to interfaces and opportunities between space medicine and other areas of science, medicine and engineering

An optional field trip to NASA Johnson Space Center is offered to students enrolled in the course.

Topics in Human Space Exploration and Medicine (MESPM 611)

Students can take this course in the Fall/MS2 Term 2 (0.5 credit). This course is required for the Space Medicine Pathway.

The course consists of nine lectures given by center faculty and external experts. The educational objectives are:

  • Introduce students to how remote harsh environments on Earth can serve as analogs to improve capabilities for space
  • Expose students to technological and clinical care advances in space medicine
  • Provide information on countermeasures research to mitigate risks to human health in space
  • Discuss the role of the International Space Station for space biomedical science and international collaboration
  • Describe the role of the commercial sector in partnering with academia and government for research and the emerging sector of commercial spaceflight

Special Project in Space Medicine (MESPM 614)

This course can be taken by MS2, MS3 and MS4 students (2 credits).  This course is not required for the Space Medicine Pathway.

The course is a four-week mentored research experience. Students may enroll during any block but must consult with their faculty mentor to schedule.

The elective provides BCM medical students with research experience in space life science and/or space medicine. Each experience is individualized to match student interests with CSM activities. The research is supervised by a BCM faculty member and the student is responsible for participating in a scientific project and presenting his/her findings in a brief verbal presentation and written report. The educational objectives for the elective are to: 

  • Gain experience in conducting biomedical research that contributes to the field of space medicine
  • Learn principles and methods of scientific investigation relevant to today’s technology-savvy physician-scientist
  • Expose students to the importance of interdisciplinary research collaboration and mentorship.

At the end of the elective, students will have a better understanding of research and its role in advancing space medicine knowledge and practice. This course is not a required course for the Space Medicine Pathway.

Space Medicine Research (MESPM 615)

This course can be taken by MS2, MS3 and MS4 students (4 credits). This course is required for the Space Medicine Pathway.

The course is a four-week mentored research experience. Students may enroll during any block but must consult with their faculty mentor to schedule.

Students must have successfully completed MESPM 610 and MESPM 611, and need to formally apply to take this elective. The educational objectives are:

  • Gain “hands-on” experience in conducting biomedical research that contributes to the field of space medicine
  • Learn principles and methods of scientific investigation relevant to today’s technology-savvy physician-scientist
  • Expose students to the importance of interdisciplinary research collaboration and mentorship
  • Provide in-depth information on clinical space medicine topics
  • Teach students about interdisciplinary approaches for clinical problem solving arising on international space missions
  • Expose students to the importance of group discussions and critical thinking relevant to space medicine and clinical problems arising in extreme environments on Earth

Students are required to give a formal presentation and turn in a paper on their research project.

Heading

Space Medicine Pathway

Content

Objectives

  • Demonstrate knowledge about human adaptation and biomedical risks associated with space travel
  • Describe countermeasures for mitigating risks and relate advances from space medicine to enhance health on Earth
  • Utilize research to extend knowledge about space medicine and its applications to terrestrial medicine.

All three objectives map to CCGG Goal 2 Medical knowledge, Subgoal 2.1 Demonstrate knowledge of established and evolving biomedical, clinical, epidemiological and social-behavioral sciences, as well as the application of this knowledge to diagnose, manage and prevent disease.

How to Apply for the Pathway

Students are eligible to apply for participation in the Space Medicine Pathway during or following completion of MESPM 611. During this elective, we ask that students interested in applying to the Space Medicine Pathway identify themselves to the pathway coordinator. Each interested student is assessed by the pathway director. The student must be in good academic standing, dedicated to completing the pathway and have a research project that (a) meets the objectives of MESPM 615 and (b) is in an area where the Center for Space Medicine can provide a suitable faculty mentor.

Required Courses

Students must successfully complete:

  • During First Year - MESPM 610 (Spring/MS-1 Term 4) Introduction to Human Space Exploration and Medicine
  • During Second Year - MESPM 611 (Fall/MS-2 Term 2) Topics in Human Space Exploration and Medicine
  • During Second, Third or Fourth Year - MESPM 615 Space Medicine Research

If you have questions about the electives, please contact Nancy Gibbins.

Completion

Students who complete the Space Medicine Pathway are acknowledged during commencement when they receive their M.D. degree. They also receive a designation on their transcript.