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May 29, 1997

Mike Braukus
Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
(Phone: 202/358-1979)

Linda Matthews Copley
Johnson Space Center
(Phone: 281/483-8609)

Release: 97-116

NASA, Baylor College of Medicine, Sign Agreement to Establish a National Space Biomedical Research Institute

NASA today signed an agreement with Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX to establish a National Space Biomedical Research Institute. Baylor will lead a consortium of premier academic and research facilities across the country to conduct the focused biomedical research necessary to support human health in the exploration and development of space.

The agreement is for five years with three five-year extensions. The total value of the 20-year agreement is approximately $145 million. The Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX will sponsor the Institute.

NASA identified the concept of a science institute as a means of maintaining the scientific excellence of its applied biomedical research through a greater involvement of the scientific community in NASA’s overall research program.

The members of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute consortium are: Baylor College of Medicine; Harvard Medical School; Cambridge, MA; Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine and Applied Physics Laboratory, Baltimore and Laurel, MD; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA; Rice University, Houston, TX; and Texas A & M University, College Station, TX.

The specific objectives of the Institute include:

  • Implementation of a research plan that will lead to the knowledge and technologies required for long-duration space flight, including specific countermeasures;
  • Ensure the dissemination of knowledge to the scientific community;
  • Facilitate science community access to NASA’s space biomedical research expertise and facilities;
  • Ensure that technology development and knowledge are transferred to the private sector.

"The Biomedical Research Institute will greatly enhance the quality of our Life Sciences research program as we take advantage of the capability and expertise of the Baylor College of Medicine and the consortium" said JSC Director George W.S. Abbey. "The consortium will also benefit by their involvement with NASA as we make our facilities and assets available to them. And the public will benefit as space technology is made available to solve problems here on Earth."

Dr. Ralph D. Feigin, President of Baylor College of Medicine said, "this venture is an exciting opportunity for the worlds of space science and biomedical science to join forces. We are particularly pleased that Baylor’s Dr. Bobby R. Alford will serve as chairman of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute."

"Baylor College of Medicine, the consortium institutions and the integrated research teams are more excited than ever about the extraordinary challenge and potential that this powerful partnership between NASA and academia, linked to industry, offers" said Bobby R. Alford, M.D., chairman of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute Board.

"We believe the opportunities are unlimited to foster and enhance the Space Life Sciences and insure the safe long term human presence, development and exploration of space; which in turn, because of biomedical discoveries and advances in knowledge and technology, will enhance life on Earth," Alford added.

The director of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute will be Dr. Laurence R. Young, Apollo Professor of Astronautics at MIT. Dr. Young termed the institute "a major step toward further human exploration of the solar system."

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