Sinai Hospital of Baltimore
is investigating the effects of spaceflight on astronauts, thanks to a $1 million grant from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and NASA’s Human Research Program. Sinai Hospital received one of 29 grants awarded for a three-year study of astronaut health and performance on future deep space exploration missions.
The major emphasis of the grants is to address the recently identified issue of visual impairment of astronauts during and after space exploration, according to a NASA statement.
Dr. Michael A. Williams, medical director of The Sandra and Malcolm Brain & Spine Institute, will lead the investigation at Sinai Hospital, part of LifeBridge Health, a provider of health services in northwest Baltimore.
"We are one of eight centers working on intercranial pressure and visual impairment. The others are academic centers," Williams says. Williams will collaborate with Dr. Aaron Dentinger of General Electric Co., and Dr. Gary Strangman of Harvard Medical School-Massachusetts General Hospital on the research team looking at smart medical systems and technology.
In his research, Williams will gauge the accuracy of two non-invasive methods of measuring spinal fluid pressure. Neither is currently considered accurate enough to make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions for astronauts in spaceflight.
Beyond its value for spaceflight, Williams says the research applies to civilian life. "The NASA research builds on a program in which we routinely use invasive testing to monitor spinal fluid. For our hospital and patients, if we can demonstrate the validity of non-invasive clinical routine, it will be a boon to the patients who see us."
Says Williams, "I never imagined that in my career I have would have a role with NASA. It is a great honor."
Source: Dr. Michael A. Williams, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore
Writer: Barbara Pash