New Center for Space Medicine

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The Cleveland Clinic is launching a Center for Space Medicine that will coordinate its efforts to research medical problems experienced by humans during long-term space flight. The center will work closely with engineers and scientists at Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Center.

The Center for Space Medicine was created by Peter R. Cavanagh, Ph.D., D.Sc., chairman of the Clinic’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, and James D. Thomas, M.D., section head of Cardiovascular Imaging, to coordinate the Clinic’s space-related medical research and widen access to the expertise of the Clinic’s 2,000 physicians and scientists.

“The establishment of this center provides a means to strengthen linkages between The Cleveland Clinic and the emerging life science effort at Glenn Research Center,” Dr. Cavanagh said. “Our goal is to combine these two powerful resources in order to solve problems faced by humans in the challenging conditions of space (microgravity). The center will provide a hub for scientific and medical efforts and should attract support from the scientific, governmental, industrial and philanthropic arenas. We also believe there will be spin-offs that will improve the treatment of diseases on Earth,” Dr. Cavanagh said.

“We are delighted to be working with The Cleveland Clinic,” said Glenn Center Director Julian M. Earls, Ph.D. “By combining the talent and knowledge of NASA scientists and engineers with the Clinic’s physicians, we can improve life on Earth and develop real solutions to the human health issues faced during long-duration spaceflight.”

At The Cleveland Clinic, both Dr. Cavanagh and Dr. Thomas are actively involved in space medicine. Dr. Cavanagh leads the Bone Loss Team of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). He works with astronauts to determine how the lack of gravity affects bones and how bone loss during space flight can be limited. Dr Thomas is a member of the NSBRI’s Smart Medical Systems Team. He studies the effect of space travel on the heart.

In celebration of the Clinic’s new Center for Space Medicine, a special ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in the Six Continents Room of the InterContinental Hotel & Conference Center Cleveland, 9801 Carnegie Ave. A highlight of the event will be a brief address by Cleveland-born astronaut Donald A Thomas, Ph.D., International Space Station program scientist. Dr. Thomas is a graduate of Cleveland Heights High School and an honors graduate of Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Thomas flew as a mission specialist on four Space Shuttle missions between 1994 and 1997. (Media are invited to attend this event.)

The Cleveland Clinic’s links to space and to NASA Glenn also are evident in “The Art of Science for Space,” an educational exhibit of photographs, paintings, digital images and space-related artifacts on display in The Cleveland Clinic’s main hospital and Children’s Hospital lobbies through Feb. 14, 2005.

The free exhibit provides an extensive display of art and artifacts linking images from the innermost parts of the human body to the outermost reaches of the universe. This combined vision shows that space exploration in relation to medical advances is more than “science fiction” — the two are becoming medical fact every day right here in Cleveland.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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