03 April 2006 –Washington, DC – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) held an “Excellence in Aerospace Discourse Series” Life Sciences Forum on Capitol Hill Friday March 31. “Restoration and Sustainability of our National Space Life Science Research Capability” brought together leaders in the field of microgravity biomedical research to discuss the issues facing space life science research, the terrestrial benefits of such research, and actions Congress needs to take in order to keep America a global leader in this sort of scientific research.

AIAA Executive Director Bob Dickman noted in opening remarks, “The status and future of space life science research is in question and is being discussed by the Administration, NASA, Congress, the science community, international space exploration partners and academia. Having participants from all these sectors here today is a healthy expression of democratic dialogue and debate. This type of broad participation is what makes AIAA the world’s forum for aerospace leadership.”

Dickman also thanked Congressman Brad Miller (D-NC) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) for their support to this discussion.

Dr. Chris Brown, an AIAA member, professor at North Carolina State University and Director of the North Carolina Space Grant acted as moderator of this event. Said Dr. Brown, “Basic research for space life science is in grave danger. There are 278 investigations in the field, taking place in 40 states involving more then 1,500 students. At the end of FY06 NASA will terminate 87 of these investigations – or 31% of ongoing projects. We can’t stop this research today and expect to bring it back again without dire impact to the United States’ leadership position in microgravity research.”

The event closed with a call to action during which the panel participants and attendees called for Congress to provide level funding for NASA life science research, with a top level increase to the NASA budget of $38 million over the President’s budget submission. Also, the group discussed the need for the space science community as a whole to work together – and bring Congress and the Administration a vision for science research at NASA. Finally, the participants called for NASA to find a more balanced approach to its funding of science in relation to engineering.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) advances the state of aerospace science, engineering, and technological leadership. Headquartered in suburban Washington, DC, the Institute serves over 35,000 members in 65 regional sections and 79 countries. AIAA membership is drawn from all levels of industry, academia, private research organizations, and government. For more information, visit www.aiaa.org.


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
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Reston, VA 20191-4344
Phone: 703/264.7532
Fax: 703.264.7551


Sharon Grace