Peggy Wilhide/Renee Juhans

Headquarters, Washington, DC

(Phone: 202/358-1712)

RELEASE: 00-158

NASA today announced a restructuring of the Office of Life
and Microgravity Sciences and Applications (OLSMA) to strengthen
the agency*s ability to meet the challenges brought about by the
growth in areas such as molecular biology, nanotechnology,
information technology and genomics.

The reorganization is consistent with NASA Administrator Daniel S.
Goldin’s vision to create an interdisciplinary research program
focused on biology, bringing together physics, chemistry, biology
and engineering.

“Through this new enterprise, the best and brightest from across
the sciences and across the country, can focus their talents on
meeting the challenges NASA faces in our future missions,” said

It will build and further strengthen academic community
involvement in all of NASA’s scientific and technology missions
and, in addition, will establish the organization needed to
facilitate effective use of International Space Station facilities
for targeted scientific and technology research in a microgravity
environment. The new enterprise will also establish the
organization needed to transfer scientific and technological
research results for Earth benefits.

“There is a new urgency in understanding long-term human health in
space,” said Goldin. “Given these daunting challenges, NASA must
develop and exploit revolutionary technology to maintain crew
health and make space-based clinical care truly space based.
Enhancing our understanding of human health is critical.”

Under the new plan, OLMSA will be renamed the Office of Biological
and Physical Research (BPR) and enhanced to form a separate
enterprise focusing on scientific research. Previously, OLMSA was
a part of the Human Exploration and Development of Space
Enterprise (HEDS). The new BPR office will work closely with HEDS
to facilitate long-term exploration of space.

NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Kathie L. Olsen will be acting Associate
Administrator for the new enterprise, and will return to her
position as Chief Scientist once a permanent Associate
Administrator is named. Dr. Julie Swain will serve as acting
Deputy Associate Administrator.

BPR will include a wide spectrum of scientific research, including
basic, applied, biological, physical, chemical, and biomedical.
BPR will increase the academic community’s involvement in NASA’s
science and technology missions.

BPR will be made up of five divisions:

  • The Physical Sciences division will be structured to promote
    cross-disciplinary physical, chemical, biological and theoretical

  • Fundamental Space Biology will be established at the division
    level to apply the revolutionary changes in molecular biology and
    genetics to a space-based environment.

  • Biomedical and Human Support Research will also be established
    at the division level and will integrate fundamental and clinical
    research to prioritize crew health, medical and environmental
    technology issues. It will focus research on critical crew health,
    safety and performance issues.

  • The Division of Research Integration will focus on cross-
    discipline research and resource integration within BPR and across

  • The Division of Policy and Program Integration will not be
    changed under the reorganization.

    Goldin noted that advances in biological sciences are opening new
    opportunities for the space program. Just recently, NASA entered
    into an agreement with the National Cancer Institute to work on
    nanotechnologies with a dual purpose * to develop revolutionary
    technologies for early detection of cancer in patients here on
    Earth and early detection of illness in astronauts up in space.

    “By combining NCI’s expertise in biochemistry, molecular and
    cellular biology and clinical medicine with NASA’s expertise in
    physical micro-systems and biotechnology, we can develop the
    fundamentals for an entirely new technology discipline,” said

    The new enterprise will create an infrastructure that integrates
    research and technology, broadens NASA’s peer-reviewed research
    programs to strengthen ties with universities, and provides
    answers to questions fundamental for the future.

    – end –