(see NASA and USRA, 1999). The committee strongly supports its continuation and commends publication of the workshop proceedings as an especially valuable tool for the community.
Convincing testimony to the extent and value of collaborations between the Division of Life Sciences and the National Institutes of Health is provided by the success of Neurolab, as well as by jointly funded grants under the NRA and NSBRI programs. The National Science Foundation’s Antarctic program provides a laboratory for behavioral research in isolated environments that is increasingly important as the era of prolonged occupation of the ISS approaches, and collaborations with the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Office of Naval Research have significant benefits for advanced technology development. The committee strongly supports such interagency collaboration, both as a means of stretching tight budgets for research and development and as a means of adding new scientific expertise to important problems of mutual interest.
In summary, operational research—that is, targeted research directed at solving a specific, well-defined problem—has generally been carried out by NASA intramural investigators. The larger extramural investigator community should also be encouraged to engage in this type of research, by the use of NRAs and peer review groups focused on issues in operational research.
The era of ISS construction and utilization, with increased emphasis on international crews and operations, raises important issues with respect to acquisition and management of human data. Mechanisms are needed to ensure that protocols and facilities for pre- and postflight monitoring and testing are consistent across national boundaries. There have to be common criteria for the evaluation and utilization of countermeasures and international cooperation in their development.
NASA funding for biomedical research is increasingly distributed among a diverse set of organizations and programs. These include the program of NASA Research Announcements, intramural investigators in NASA center science programs, the NSBRI, and NSCORT. NASA science benefits from the unique strengths of each of these program constituents. However, careful planning is required to delineate the roles, responsibilities, and appropriate funding levels for each; to ensure effective collaborations; and to integrate research findings. In particular, NASA should maintain a healthy NRA program as the primary mode for support of space-related biomedical research because of the advantages it offers in accessing the widest investigator community and exploring novel ideas and approaches.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 1998a. Astronaut Medical Evaluation Requirements Document (AMERD), JSC 24834, Rev. A. Houston, Tex.: NASA.
NASA. 1998b. International Space Station Medical Operations Requirements Document (ISS MORD), Baseline SSP 50260. Houston, Tex.: NASA.
NASA and Universities Space Research Association (USRA). 1999. Proceedings of the First Biennial Biomedical Investigators’ Workshop, January 11-13, 1999, League City, Texas. Houston, Tex.: NASA and USRA.
National Research Council (NRC), Space Studies Board. 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.