Three scientists selected for space research postdoctoral fellowships Note: A list of the NSBRI Postdoctoral Fellows and their research projects appears at:

Three young investigators have been named as National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) Postdoctoral Fellows.

“As the focus shifts to lunar and Mars missions, the space program needs scientists well versed in the research and technology development skills required to solve health problems related to exploration missions,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Sutton, NSBRI director. “This fellowship provides hands-on experience for the young scientists who will implement the Vision for Space Exploration.”

The two-year program offers Fellows the opportunity to manage their own space-related biomedical research project while continuing to learn from an experienced faculty mentor. Participants receive $40,000 per year, become a member of one of NSBRI’s research teams, and spend one-to-two weeks at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) learning about JSC’s research facilities and program.

“As part of an NSBRI research team, they participate in the team’s monthly teleconferences and meetings and attend NSBRI’s annual investigator retreats,” Sutton said. “These activities give the Fellows additional professional relationships with leading scientists from across the U.S.”

To be selected, applicants submitted detailed research project proposals to investigate a solution to a space health risk or to develop a technology needed to enable research or medical care in space. The research must involve a mentor and be carried out at a U.S. laboratory doing space-related biomedical or biotechnological research.

Applications were reviewed for scientific and technical merit by the Fellowship Committee and by NSBRI management to ensure relevance to the Institute’s research program goals.

The 2005-2007 NSBRI Postdoctoral Fellows, their institutions and mentors are:

  • Hirofumi Aoki, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mentor: Charles M. Oman, Ph.D.
  • Philipp Oberdoerffer, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School Mentor: David A. Sinclair, Ph.D.
  • Amy L. Ouellette, Ph.D., Stanford University Mentor: Gregory T. Kovacs, M.D., Ph.D.

The Fellows’ research projects address areas of interest to exploration missions and include preflight virtual reality-based training to aid navigation within a spacecraft, a possible defense against radiation-induced DNA damage, and a handheld diagnostic sensor to detect infection and changes in immune response. NSBRI solicits fellowship applications annually.

Funded by NASA, NSBRI studies the health risks related to long-duration space flight with peer-reviewed research and education projects at more than 70 institutions across the United States.

The Institute’s research program addresses bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular changes, sleep disturbances, balance and orientation, radiation exposure, immunology, infection, neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors, remote medical care and related technologies, nutrition, physical fitness, and rehabilitation. Research findings also impact the understanding and treatment of similar medical conditions experienced on Earth.