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Review of NASA’s Biomedical Research Program
The Strategy report made several recommendations in the cardiovascular area. These recommendations were to determine the following: (a) adaptive responses of the cardiovascular system to spaceflight and the mechanisms underlying these adaptations, (b) immediate postflight cardiovascular responses and their mechanisms, (c) adequacy of ground-based models to replicate spaceflight-induced cardiovascular changes, (d) long-term consequences of extended spaceflight on cardiovascular health, and (e) the need for and validation of countermeasures to be applied for the cardiovascular effects of spaceflight. The major pulmonary recommendations were to determine the following: (a) effects of microgravity on aerosol deposition, including the possible effects of lunar or Martian dust particles, (b) effects of long-duration spaceflight on pulmonary and respiratory muscle function, and (c) optimal denitrogenation protocols for Space Station EVA. Technology needs identified in the Strategy report were for (a) advanced physiological data systems (e.g., heart rate, beat-to-beat blood pressure, cardiac output, gas exchange); (b) improved imaging systems (e.g., scintigraphic system for spaceflight use); (c) new exercise equipment; (d) advanced aerosol monitoring systems; and (e) improved decompression sickness monitoring equipment.
The following sections summarize the findings relevant to these recommendations.
NASA’S CURRENT RESEARCH PROGRAM IN CARDIOVASCULAR AND PULMONARY SYSTEMS
At an FY 1999 funding level of about $4.9 million, CV studies account for approximately 14 percent of the total NASA budget for biomedical and countermeasure research funding. Additional funding comes from sources such as operations (e.g., to support the clinical evaluation of reduced prebreathe times and for integrated testing regimes), but the magnitude is unknown. The NASA Research Announcement (NRA) and NSBRI listings indicate a total of 29 projects in the cardiopulmonary discipline. Twenty-seven studies are performed either entirely or partially in humans. Twenty studies address CV physiology and/or orthostatic changes, two address arrhythmias, three focus on the pulmonary system, one focuses on atrophy, and three are concerned primarily with countermeasure evaluation. Table 5.1 summarizes the projects and funding.
Cardiopulmonary projects are carried out at JSC, the Ames Research Center (ARC), NSBRI-funded university laboratories, and other university laboratories through extramural grants. The Environmental Physiology Laboratory at JSC supports studies on EVA, and studies on pulmonary function are supported through NRA and flight projects programs at extramural laboratories. The Medical Operations
TABLE 5.1 Summary of FY 1999 Funding for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Systems Subdisciplines