Space Medicine Lecture Series

The Center for Space Medicine offers two lecture series “Introduction to Human Space Exploration and Medicine” and "Topics in Human Space Exploration and Medicine.” The elective courses are part of the Baylor College of Medicine medical student curriculum and they provide a unique opportunity for students to learn about new discoveries in biomedical science, technology, and medicine relevant to space, and how these advances enhance health and medical care on Earth. 

Physiologic Issues of Mission to Mars

Peter Norsk, M.D., dr. med., Senior Research Director, Translational Research Institute for Space Health, BCM Center for Space Medicine

Learning Objectives:   Knowing the most important physiologic issues during deep space missions such as effects on vision and brain structure and function, nutrition, immune and cardiovascular effects, and finally the need for exercise and what type of exercise; and NASA’s research strategy for mitigating health risks of deep space missions.

Neurologic Effects of Spaceflight

Jon Clark, M.D., MPH; Associate Professor, Center for Space Medicine

Understand how the nervous system is affected by the space environment; Recognize the specific neurologic syndromes associated with the various phases of spaceflight; and Identify how microgravity related effects on nervous system function may influence human performance.

Biomedical Effects of Space Flight – Operational Perspective

Leroy Chiao, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Baylor Family and Community Medicine and Space Medicine, Chair of NSBRI User Panel and Former NASA Astronaut

Learning Objectives: The space and microgravity environment presents unique biomedical challenges to astronauts and other biological systems. These issues are increased during long-duration spaceflight, and will become more important as missions beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) are contemplated. Dr. Chiao presents an overview of these problems, as well as current operational countermeasures and developments, against a backdrop of his spaceflight experiences.

Space: The Final Healthcare Frontier

Dorit Donoviel, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Baylor Pharmacology and Space Medicine, Deputy Chief Scientist, National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Learning Objectives: Articulate how medical care can be provided in extreme environments in space; list some of the top health concerns for astronauts on deep space exploration missions; and explain how developing medical care approaches and technologies for space can impact healthcare on Earth.

Brain Physiology Monitoring for Space and Earth

Eric Bershad, M.D., Assistant Professor, Baylor Neurology and Space Medicine

Learning Objectives: Understand normal intracranial physiology on Earth; Discuss the known and unknown effects of space-flight on brain physiology; and review several non-invasive methods for studying brain physiology on Earth and Space.

Medical Events and Health Care in Space

Jonathan Clark, M.D., Associate Professor, Baylor Neurology and Space Medicine, NSBRI Space Medicine Advisor and Former NASA Flight Surgeon

Learning Objectives: Understand the hazards associated with space operations during various phases of spaceflight; gain familiarity with the specialty of space medicine and the hazards associated with human spaceflight; and recognize the challenges of health care delivery in the space environment.

Pharmacology in Spaceflight Missions

Virginia Wotring, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Baylor Pharmacology and Space Medicine, NSBRI Science and Technology Manager

Learning Objectives: To understand how pharmaceuticals could be used to help astronauts function best in the unusual environment of a spaceflight mission; and to understand the unique requirements of a long duration mission on a medication kit.

Astro-Omics as a First Step to Deploying Precision Medicine in Space

Graham Scott, Ph.D., former Associate Professor, Baylor Molecular and Cellular Biology & Space Medicine, NSBRI Vice President, Chief Scientist & Institute Associate Director

Learning Objectives: Describe NSBRI / BCM / NASA driven astro-omics projects, with particular emphasis on the NSBRI/NASA funded Twins Study; discuss the pernicious space radiation environment, from the perspective of individual vulnerabilities – including sex-based differences between male and female astronauts; and anchor the use of personalized medicine, including mitigating the health effects of space radiation, to the future exploration of deep space such as a Mars Flyby mission.

Space Cell Biology: A Microcosm of the Influence of Physical Forces on Life

Neal R. Pellis, Ph.D., Director of Space Life Sciences, Universities Space Research Association

Learning Objectives: The rationale for cell based research in the Space Program; the role of physical forces in life processes; cellular responses to microgravity and to mechanical forces; conditions created by microgravity that influence cell function; and integration of observations in cells to tissue, system, organ, and organismal level.

So You Want to Go to Mars? Biomedical Aspects of Early Interplanetary Expeditions

John Charles, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, NASA Johnson Space Center

Learning Objectives: Understand why interplanetary missions occur so infrequently and take so long; understand how actual space missions are different from fictional space missions in the movies; and understand the physiological and psychological challenges of interplanetary missions and what is being done to overcome them. 

A Day in the Life of a Flight Surgeon

Jonathan Clark, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Neurology & Center for Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Space Medicine Consultant, NSBRI

Learning Objectives: Gain familiarity with specialty of Aerospace Medicine and career paths (government, military, and civilian); understand the Flight Surgeon training opportunities; and recognize the challenges of health care delivery in the aerospace environment

Pharmacological Considerations for Space Flight Missions

Virginia Wotring, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Center for Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, NSBRI Science and Technology Manager

Learning Objectives: Understand what a medication’s expiration date means and how it is determined; understand the potential consequences of medication stability for long-duration spaceflight; and understand the potential consequences of altered pharmacokinetics on therapeutic safety and efficacy.

Assessing the Risk of Ionizing Radiation and Other Hazards of Exploration Class Space Missions

Jeffrey A. Jones, M.D., Professor, Urology and Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Chief of Urology, Michael E. DeBakey Veteran Affairs Medical Center

Learning Objectives: Define the medical hazards of space exploration; develop an understanding of the level of risk from each hazard vs. those of the vehicle; discuss the mechanisms of cellular injury from ionizing radiation and; discuss possible countermeasures for exploration mission biological concerns.

Towards Precision Space Medicine:  Individual Responses to the Space Environment

Graham B.I. Scott, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology and Space Medicine, NSBRI Vice President, Chief Scientist & Institute Associate Director

Learning Objectives: Dr. Scott will highlight individual differences and phenotypic variability observed in astronaut crew members during spaceflight, as well as in analog environments; he will also discuss current and future opportunities to employ modern –omics techniques, such as next generation sequencing, as a key component of space biomedical research. Particular mention will be made of a flight study that recently occurred on the International Space Station involving a set of identical twin astronauts, namely Scott and Mark Kelly; and Dr. Scott will also discuss the use of personalized medicine approaches to better enable a future flyby mission of the red planet, as proposed several years ago by the Inspiration Mars Foundation. 

Medical Issues of Commercial Spaceflight

James M. Vanderploeg, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Faculty, Department of Medicine and Center for Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine

Learning Objectives:  Understand the medical challenges involved in providing safe spaceflight to a broad range of individuals beyond professional astronauts; Understand the regulatory regime under which commercial human space flights are governed.

Video Archive of Space Medicine Track lectures:

"Astronaut Perspective on Space Exploration and Human Performance" by Leroy Chiao, Ph.D., chair of NSBRI User Panel and Former NASA Astronaut

"A Global Perspective for Space Exploration and Space Medicine" by Leroy Chiao, Ph.D., chair of NSBRI User Panel and Former NASA Astronaut

"A Day in the Life of a Flight Surgeon" by Jonathan Clark, M.D., Space Medicine consultant, National Space Biomedical Research Institute

"Issues of Behavioral Performance and Behavioral Health in Space -- Detection is Key" by David Dinges, Ph.D., professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

"Lecture on Surgery" by Scott A. Dulchavsky, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of Surgery, Henry Ford Hospital

"Human Adaptation to Space and the Need for Countermeasures" by Douglas Hamilton, M.D., Ph.D., Baylor Family and Community Medicine

"Physician-Astronaut Training and Future Opportunities" by David Hilmers, M.D., Baylor Pediatrics and former NASA Astronaut

"Commercial Issues" by Richard T. Jennings, M.D., M.S., professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Family Medicine, medical director, UTMB Aviation Medicine Center, director, UTMB/NASA-JSC Aerospace Medicine Residency, University of Texas Medical Branch

"Advanced Medical Care in Exploration Environments" by Christian A. Otto, M.D., University of Ottawa, Ottawa Hospital (Emergency Medicine) and regional medical director, Ontario Telemedicine Network

"Biomedical Research Challenges for Space Exploration: Can we fulfill the prophesies of the Sci Fi movies?" by Neil Pellis, Ph.D. division chief, Biological Systems Office, NASA JSC

"Space Radiation: Health Risks and Mitigation Strategies" by Marcelo Vazquez, M.D., Ph.D., NSBRI senior scientist

"Space Science and the Education Community" by Dave A. Watson, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Medicine, Baylor senior scientist for Integration, National Space Biomedical Research Institute, William A. Thomson, Ph.D., professor and director, Center for Educational Outreach, BCM and Gregory Vogt, Ed.D., Center for Educational Outreach, Baylor College of Medicine