NASA grants renewal and funding for deep space health protections
After a favorable program review in December 2020, NASA has exercised its option to renew the Houston-based Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) until 2028. TRISH works closely with NASA’s Human Research Program in advancing innovations in biomedical research to protect astronauts on deep space missions.
The Institute will receive additional funding up to $134.6 million from 2022 to 2028. It will continue delivering innovative solutions that mitigate health and performance decrements anticipated for humans in deep space, while advancing terrestrial health technologies.
Led by Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine, TRISH is a consortium that includes partners California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“NASA has received outstanding value from our bold approach to sourcing and advancing space health research and technologies,” said institute director Dr. Dorit Donoviel. “We are proud to be NASA’s partner in its human space exploration mission and to be supporting the research necessary to create new frontiers in healthcare that will benefit all humans.”
Baylor College of Medicine was awarded the cooperative agreement from the NASA Human Research Program in 2016 to form TRISH. The Institute was tasked to find and fund innovative research, educate and disseminate space health information, develop a community of high-caliber scientists and provide leadership in the field of human health in deep space.
When NASA conducted its review of the Institute at the beginning of the fifth year of operations in December 2020, TRISH had:
- Developed and transitioned 34 completed astronaut health and performance protection projects to NASA.
- Connected 415 first-time NASA researchers to opportunities to apply their research to design protections for many space health risks.
- Leveraged non-government dollars totaling $9.5 million through cost-sharing from companies and academic institutions funded through TRISH research grants.
The NASA Review Committee identified as strengths TRISH’s ability to identify and support highly innovative or game-changing projects, its strong science team and the implementation of innovative approaches to collaboration.
In the next six years, TRISH will tackle three initiatives to bring future Mars exploration missions into clearer focus. First, TRISH will build strategic partnerships, including with commercial spaceflight companies, to increase the volume of available biometric data on the impact of space travel on health and performance.
In addition, TRISH is building a digital platform to simulate the spaceflight environment, which will allow researchers to model and test new health technologies without needing to leave Earth.
Finally, the Institute recognizes that the future of space exploration must include all humans. TRISH will leverage tissue chip technology to place a variety of human cells in lunar orbit as part of NASA’s Artemis research missions. These “personalized avatars” will expand the possibilities of tracking the effects of space radiation and microgravity on human stem-cell derived mini-organs from different individuals.
Learn more about the Translational Research Institute for space Health at bcm.edu/spacehealth.