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New Online Database Enables Researchers to Update Risks to Crew Health
ISS030-E-132530: NASA astronaut Don Pettit

NASA’s Human Research Wiki is an online database of critical medical conditions that could impact the health and performance of crew members on long-duration space missions. These conditions include possible impacts to the body’s muscles and bones. International Space Station crew members exercise daily to help prevent bone and muscle loss. Flight Engineer Don Pettit exercises on the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT). Credit: NASA

An online database of critical medical conditions that could impact the health and performance of crew members on future long-duration space missions has been established.

The NASA Human Research Wiki is an online collaborative environment developed to enable authors internal and external to NASA to update the evidence base for medical conditions which are of concern for spaceflight. This evidence base, which is key to designing adequate medical support for these novel missions, is available to the general public through the NASA Human Research Wiki.

› View the NASA Human Research Wiki

The Wiki was developed by the Exploration Medical Capability (ExMC) element within NASA's Human Research Program.

The Wiki contains information on medical capabilities including medical condition pages. These pages, when fully populated, will include data on 85 medical conditions that could occur during spaceflight. The Wiki also has reports on existing gaps in either knowledge or technology related to these conditions that need to be addressed to enable safer exploration missions.

“The NASA Human Research Wiki is a way to disseminate the medical condition evidence and gap report information for our risks to a wider audience and increase collaboration opportunities with subject matter experts, both NASA and non-NASA, hopefully leading to new insights and innovative solutions,” said Jack Rasbury, Wiki project manager with Wyle. “The NASA Human Research Wiki is just one novel technique being investigated by the HRP for fostering collaboration. The Wiki currently only includes ExMC’s evidence but, if successful, can be expanded to include other HRP elements as well.”

The new website is intended to increase collaboration with subject matter experts within and outside of NASA. Unlike a traditional Wiki, the Human Research Wiki allows all visitors to the site to view the information, but editorial access is restricted to credentialed and approved subject matter experts.

The Wiki includes a subset of the ExMC information and will continue to grow over the next year to include all of ExMC's evidence. The NASA Human Research Wiki is similar to a traditional Wiki and, in fact, uses the MediaWiki platform, the same used by Wikipedia. However, since the NASA HRP Wiki represents the medical and scientific community of NASA, it was necessary to provide some control over who can contribute content.

The Wiki has two “sides,” both available to the public: a read-only side for the general public and a collaboration side that requires access privileges for editing. Contributions by subject matter experts can be through ExMC invitation or through request for editing access from the Wiki. An editorial board has been established for the Wiki to assure quality and validity of information. Only information that has gone through editorial board review will be displayed on the public-facing side of the Wiki.

The Wiki interfaces with another application, the Integrated Medical Model (IMM), a probabilistic decision support tool for space medicine. The IMM database provides the Wiki with incidence and outcome information on specific medical conditions. Each medical condition page on the Wiki has a link to the IMM database to retrieve a summary of the evidence associated with that condition. It is hoped that this environment will be of mutual benefit as it provides another possible validation mechanism for the evidence back to IMM.