Human health risks in space flight focus of research internships

August 03, 2004

HOUSTON, Aug. 3, 2004 — Two of only 13 candidates accepted from a pool of international applicants, University of Houston doctoral students Andrew Abercromby and F. Jay Haran are working with scientists in the Neurosciences Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI).

Abercromby, a second-year doctoral student of kinesiology, plans to work in human space flight-related research and development. This is the second work experience for Abercromby through NSBRI. Haran, a first-year doctoral student in kinesiology, is capitalizing on this internship to study stride-interval variability and analyze data collected from the astronauts, before and after they return from missions on the International Space Station. Haran's research seeks to counter the ill effects of a gravity-free environment on an astronaut's ability to walk and maintain balance upon return to Earth, as well as one day provide a better understanding of balance disorders that impact the way people walk and move, such as Parkinson's disease.

Abercromby received his bachelor's degree in engineering and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Edinburgh. He graduated from Buckhaven High School in Fife.

Haran received his bachelor's degree in health science from the University of Miami and his master's degree in movement science with a specialization in biomechanics from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. He graduated from Conard High School in Hartford, Conn.

Both Abercromby and Haran are part of the UH College of Education's Department of Health and Human Performance.

The NSBRI offers internships to a small number of undergraduate, graduate and medical students who are interested in life sciences. The 10-to-12 week program gives students the opportunity to join ongoing projects with scientists at JSC.

"The summer program is an excellent opportunity for students to gain exposure to space biomedical research and have mentors who are space life scientists," said Dr. Jeffrey Sutton, NSBRI director. "The program allows us to engage and inspire the next generation of scientists."
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The NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration space flight. The Institute's research and education projects take place at more than 70 institutions across the United States. NSBRI research projects address space health concerns such as bone loss, muscle weakening, cardiovascular changes, sleep disturbances, immunology and infection, balance and orientation, radiation exposure, neurobehavioral and psychosocial issues, and nutrition, physical fitness and rehabilitation. The Institute is also working to develop remote medical technologies and research devices.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/newsroom

University of Houston

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