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NSBRI Partnering with NASA to Fund Space Radiation Research Institute

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Space Biomedical Research Institute said yesterday that it plans to fund a center that will use a range of omics-based approaches to study the effects of space radiation on humans.

Through a collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NSBRI plans to provide up to $2 million in annual costs to establish a Center for Space Radiation Research.

The CSRR will aim to continue to advance discoveries from the NSBRI Center of Acute Radiation Research, with the goal of making discoveries that could mitigate or reduce the health risks to astronauts on missions to asteroids, the Moon, or Mars.

This center will use systems biology, genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics to characterize the effects of short-term and long-term, degenerative, effects of radiation exposures that astronauts could encounter outside of low-earth orbit (LEO).

The core problem the CSRR will address is a lack of information about the effects of radiation outside of LEO. According to a National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement report from 2006, current radiation guidelines only pertain to missions in LEO, and are not relevant for anything further out than that, including missions to colonize the moon, or deep space missions, NSBRI noted.

The CSRR will have three central aims: to characterize at the biomolecular level acute and degenerative tissue responses to space-like radiation doses; determine the biological effects as quantitative inputs to methods and models for calculating post-radiation degenerative tissue responses; and to test the efficacy of established and experimental radiological countermeasures in animal models.

The center will look at combining exposures to both solar and galactic particles, in order to more closely mimic the environment in space, and it will evaluate pharmaceutical countermeasures to mitigate the effects of space radiation.

The NASA-funded NSBRI is headquartered in the Consolidated Research Facility on the Campus of Rice University that also serves as a headquarters for Baylor College of Medicine's Center for Space Medicine.