Fact Sheet: Center for Space Medicine

Established in 2008, the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine is the first department/academic center in space medicine ever established in a university or medical school.

CSM is the result of Baylor’s leadership and #1 ranking in NASA-funded life science R&D for the past 15 years.

CSM faculty have been critical to the leadership, growth, and success of NASA’s National Space Biomedical Research Institute, supporting integrated, top-tier science, technology, and education projects at more than 60 institutions in ~24 U.S. states, and internationally.

CSM and NSBRI collaborated with NASA, Baylor, and Rice University to open, in 2011, a 16,000 SF state-of-the-art research facility known as Space 4 Biomedicine in the heart of the Texas Medical Center.

CSM and Space 4 Biomedicine attract the best minds to work collaboratively, adding unique value to the nation’s space program, and translating new discoveries to mitigate health risks for human space exploration and benefiting life on Earth.

CSM faculty members are thought leaders and distinguished physicians, scientists, and engineers, working at the frontier of health science and technology. Faculty members include the CEO of NSBRI, the medical director of the Red Bull Stratos extreme skydiving project, the NSBRI chief scientist, biomedical commercialization experts, and former NASA astronauts and flight surgeons.

CSM is a recognized leader in exploration medicine and biomedical innovation. Together with NSBRI, the center recently established the first-ever Astro-Omics Laboratory, dedicated to precision medicine and 21st century approaches to risk mitigation for human space exploration.

The Friedkin chair for Research in Sensory System Integration and Space Medicine at Baylor is currently held by the CSM director. It is the only endowed chair professorship in space medicine in the world.

CSM is an academic home to all physician-astronauts and physician-cosmonauts in the world.

CSM’s Space Medicine Pathway, developed between 2009 and 2012, is the first-ever, four-year elective program in space medicine for undergraduate medical students.

M.D. graduates have successfully completed the Space Medicine Pathway in every year since 2012.

Over 400 students have enrolled in the Space Medicine Pathway, including 55 percent of the 2015 first-year class who took the introductory elective, placing it in the top 1 percent of all Baylor electives offered.

Baylor attracts exceptional applicants to its M.D. program, and some are drawn to Baylor specifically because of CSM.

CSM is a hub for students, residents, fellows, faculty, and visiting scholars to exchange ideas, host interactive scientific meetings and technology demonstrations, and participate in cutting-edge interdisciplinary projects at the interface of space and medicine.

The first Ph.D. degree in space medicine at Baylor was awarded in 2015 to an M.D. internal medicine resident. The thesis addressed the highest priority risk to astronaut health in low-Earth orbit, relating to spaceflight-induced intracranial hypertension and visual alterations.

In 2015, both aerospace medicine residency positions to train future NASA flight surgeons were filled by M.D./Ph.D. graduates of Baylor and CSM.

CSM is host to an energetic student interest group in space medicine.

CSM faculty, residents, fellows, and students publish scholarly peer-reviewed articles in high impact journals and have a growing portfolio of intellectual property.

CSM faculty members perform considerable public outreach, serve on national boards, and regularly provide testimony before the United States Congress and other government entities.

Members of CSM have received numerous accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, membership in the National Academies, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal (NASA’s highest honor).

The Jeffrey P. Sutton Scientific Achievement Award is the highest scientific accolade of the Space Medicine Association, and is named in honor of the CSM director.