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2 April 1997
For Immediate Release

Johns Hopkins Medicine and Technology on NASA Team to Form National Space Biomedical Research Institute

The Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine (SOM), Baltimore, and Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Md., are closely cooperating members of a consortium selected by NASA to form a new institute to study the medical risks and needs of people on long-term space missions.

The National Space Biomedical Research Institute, led by Baylor School of Medicine, Houston, Texas, will begin June 1 with an initial five-year, $50 million contract that could be extended to 20 years and a total of $145 million. The Institute is sponsored by NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

The Institute will be the focal point of NASA-sponsored biomedical research for supporting long-term human exploration of space. While developing solutions to medical risks associated with extended space flight, the work will also enhance the quality of life on Earth by applying advances in human knowledge and technology acquired from living and working in space.

Other members of the consortium include Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga.; Rice University, Houston, Texas; and Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas.

The new national Institute will comprise eight research teams. The APL-led team, Technology Development, will be part of APL's Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, headed by Vince Pisacane, Ph.D. The team's task will be to develop new technology as part of the human exploration of space and then ensure the timely transfer of this technology to the private sector.

APL Director Gary Smith says, "We look forward to continuing more than three decades of biomedical collaboration with Hopkins Medical Institutions and playing a part in the exciting exploration of space in the 21st century."

The School of Medicine will establish two teams. The Bone Demineralization team, led by Jay Shapiro, M.D., will search for causes of loss of bone in space and possible treatments, studying prolonged bed rest in human volunteers, animals in weightless environments, and the possible influence of weightlessness on the response of bone cells to mechanical strain.

SOM's Radiation Effects team, led by John Dicello, Ph.D., will probe health effects from higher levels and different kinds of radiation present in space, and will seek methods to reduce exposure from these radiations and to eliminate or reduce their effects with drugs.

Edward Miller Jr., M.D., CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and Dean of the School of Medicine, says, "Our inclusion in this historic consortium demonstrates the strength of the long-standing collaboration between the School of Medicine and the Applied Physics Laboratory and the depth and breadth of expertise at Johns Hopkins and all of the collaborating institutions."

As the Institute's sponsor, Johnson Space Center will make available to the consortium NASA's expertise in biomedical research and space flight and the associated facilities and assets developed over more than 30 years of human space flight.

APL is a not-for-profit laboratory and division of The Johns Hopkins University, conducting research and development primarily for national security. APL is a major space facility, having built more than 50 spacecraft, and has collaborated with Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions to produce more than 100 specialized medical devices. Located on the Johns Hopkins University medical campus in East Baltimore, the School of Medicine has earned a worldwide reputation of excellence in over a century of creating, applying, and disseminating knowledge in biomedical research, health care delivery, and the education of physicians and medical students.

Media contacts:
JHU Applied Physics Laboratory:
For more information, contact APL Public Information Officer Helen Worth; phone: 240-228-5113 or 410-778-5113.
Michael Purdy
Baltimore, Md.
Phone: 410-955-8725
E-mail: mpurdy@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu