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May 3, 1999

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

(Phone: 650/604-5026)


Kathleen A. Zona/Lori J. Rachul

NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

(Phone: 216/433-2901)




Doctors at five distant sites in the United States will demonstrate how to use NASA telemedicine to diagnose patients, practice operations and train, using 3-D medical images carried by a high-performance computer wide-area network.

The NASA telemedicine system, to be demonstrated May 4 at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, has potential for improving health care at the far corners of the Earth by linking remote sites with the best medical minds and facilities.

During the demonstration, physicians will use 3-D, scanned images of patients' hearts, skulls and other body parts. On computer screens, doctors at the five sites will see every procedure in stereo 3-D as each physician manipulates images of the virtual patient. The specialists will use high-fidelity, NASA-developed 3-D imaging software to analyze and discuss patients.

"We're looking at methods to bring the clinic to the patient, rather than the patient to the clinic," said Dr. Muriel Ross, leader of NASA's effort at Ames to develop care of patients from a distance. "We're supporting remote collaborations of doctors at different locations on Earth. This will prepare us to use the technology for spacecraft crews traveling to the International Space Station, Mars or other planets, where specialists may not be available."

The "Virtual Collaborative Clinic" will link Cleveland Clinic physicians at the NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland OH, with other health care specialists at Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA. In addition, doctors from Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, Salinas, CA, will participate from the University of California, Santa Cruz. The Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, NM; and NASA Ames will also be connected by the computer network. The concept and software are under development at Ames' Center for Bioinformatics.

"Cleveland Clinic will discuss a patient treated for an enlarged heart chamber," said Ross. "If you cut a piece out and make the chamber smaller, you improve the way the heart works. During the demonstration, you'll be able to see the before and after conditions in 3-D."

The Cleveland Clinic, Salinas Hospital and the Northern Navajo Medical Center will present their heart research. Salinas will show an infant's defective heart beating. Stanford physician Dr. Michael Stephanides will simulate facial reconstructive surgery from Ames.

"This demonstration is being done to support remote collaborations -- to plan surgeries and to make diagnoses, and eventually even to operate from a remote site," Ross said. "Specialists could guide a general practitioner, or you could guide a robot operator on a spacecraft from a great distance."

The NASA Bioinformatics team plans to promote the development of systems for scanning patients onboard spacecraft with sonic machines. Specialists collaborating from different places on Earth could plan a medical procedure, then send it to an astronaut physician to perform.

"You could try the operation in virtual reality a number of times, storing the procedure in computer memory, and then you could use the approach that's best during the actual operation," Ross said.

"We have also talked about projecting a computer image onto the patient," Ross said. "Projected images could guide doctors during operations."

More information about the Center for Bioinformatics is on the Internet at:



April 29, 1999

To: Assignment Editors and Evening News Producers

From: Laura Lewis 650-604-2162, pager 650-317-0551 and John Bluck 650-604-5026

Live Interview Opportunity with Telemedicine Experts

NASA will showcase a space telemedicine technology on May 4 that has the potential to improve health care on Earth. During the demonstration, NASA will create a Virtual Collaborative Clinic by linking five distant U.S. sites through a high-performance computer wide-area network. Once linked, doctors will use 3-D medical images to discuss and diagnose virtual patients, practice operations and conduct medical training. This technology will also allow doctors in remote locations to consult with specialists and collaborate with other physicians. Eventually, telemedicine may be used to help sick or injured astronauts traveling in space.

Participants in the Virtual Collaborative Clinic demonstration include Stanford University Medical Clinic, Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, the Northern Navajo Medical Center, the Cleveland Clinic and NASA Ames.

Discuss the Virtual Collaborative Clinic live, via satellite, with NASA's Dr. Muriel Ross or Stanford's Dr. Michael Stephanides

Book a window with Dr. Muriel Ross, the NASA scientist responsible for the technology, on Tuesday, May 4, between 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. EST, or book a window with Dr. Michael Stephanides, a surgeon from Stanford who also helped develop the technology, between 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Ask these experts:

  • What this technology will do to improve health care
  • How this technology will change the way doctors practice medicine
  • When our own doctors will be able to use this technology
  • Why NASA and Stanford view this as an important medical advance

Muriel Ross, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Bioinformatics at NASA Ames Research Center. Michael Stephanides, M.D., is a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at the Stanford University Medical Center, and the Medical Director of the National Biocomputation Center. The National Biocomputation Center is a collaborative project between NASA and Stanford University.

To book an interview call Laura Lewis at Ames Research Center 650-604-2162, pager 650-317-0551, or John Bluck at 650-604-5026.

On May 4, the b-roll and live interviews carried on NASA TV will originate from Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. On May 3, B-roll will be available on the NASA TV Video File at noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and midnight Eastern Time. NASA TV is broadcast on GE-2 (C-Band satellite), transponder 9C at 85 degrees west longitude, vertical polarization with a downlink frequency of 3880 Mhz and audio of 6.8 Mhz. In case of trouble during the interview, call Ames master control at 650-604-1536.

More information about the Center for Bioinformatics is on the Internet at:



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