May 24, 2012
NASA and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) will distribute $26 million among 29 teams selected to investigate the range of health and performance issues confronting humans during long-duration spaceflight.
Eight new studies will address the diagnosis and treatment of blurred vision problems recently reported by some astronauts returning from missions to the International Space Station.
The 29 funded studies were selected from 104 proposals submitted by experts from academia, industry and government.
The 1-3-year studies will address changes associated with long periods of weightlessness and seclusion in space to the cardiovascular, skeletal and musculature systems, as well as the blurred vision symptoms, which resemble those of idiopathic intercranial hypertension. Others will examine internal fluid shifts, radiation exposure, changes in psychosocial behavior, microbial virulence and changes to the nutritional value of stored foods, according to a May 22 award notice.
A March study from the journal Radiology based on magnetic resonance imaging studies of 27 long-duration astronauts found some with symptoms similar to idiopathic intercranial hypertension, including swelling of the optic nerve and an outward pressure on the eyeballs. The study, whose subjects averaged 108 days in orbit, raised concerns for astronauts assigned to future deep-space missions that could require months to years away from gravity.
NASA’s flight surgeons stepped up flight eye checks in response.
The study teams chosen by NASA and the NSBRI come from 25 institutions in 11 states. They include Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Texas Health Science Center, Georgia Tech, and the universities of California, North Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State and South Carolina; as well as NASA and the Universities Space Research Association.