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19 December 2001
For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Helen Worth
Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory
Phone: 240-228-5113 or 443-778-5113

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory Engineer to Lead Space Research Team

Dr. Harry K. Charles Jr., assistant department head for engineering in the Technical Services Department at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., has been named team leader for the Technology Development Team of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI).

"Dr. Charles's background with the nation's space program and leadership in engineering research will be a great benefit to the team and to the development of diagnostic tools," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Sutton, NSBRI Director.

As team leader, Dr. Charles will manage scientists from six institutions working on eight NSBRI technology projects. The team focuses on developing devices and systems to improve research techniques and medical care on the ground and in space. Projects focus on designing lightweight, compact research tools and on developing simple, minimally invasive and non-invasive methods of gathering health-related data in space. On Earth, these transportable and remote technologies will increase a physician's ability to provide care in a variety of settings such as rural clinics, nursing homes and isolated areas.

"Our Technology Development Team projects are focused on creating technology and instrumentation which directly lead to microgravity countermeasures or facilitate the health research of the other NSBRI teams, NASA, and the space flight community," said Dr. Charles.

The NSBRI, a NASA-sponsored consortium of 12 research institutions led by the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, focuses on research to pave the way for human exploration of space. Besides developing new technologies, NSBRI 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.

Dr. Charles is currently funded by the NSBRI to develop the advanced multiple projection dual-energy X-ray absorptiometer, called AMPDXA, which will measure tissue mass, bone density and bone geometry. While in space, the data from these measurements will allow astronauts to either increase exercise or take medications to counter the loss of bone and muscle mass due to long-duration microgravity exposure.

This instrument will be a significant advance in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of osteoporosis on Earth. Portable versions of the machine will make it easier to do screenings for osteoporosis in retirement communities and at nursing homes.

Dr. Charles received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia and his doctorate in electrical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University. He started his career at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and has been an APL staff member for more than 25 years.

Established in 1997 through a NASA competition, the NSBRI consortium includes Baylor College of Medicine, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rice University, Texas A&M University, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, University of Pennsylvania Health System and University of Washington.

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Ben Walker
Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory
Phone: 240-228-6792 or 443-778-6792