UTMB and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have been partners for decades. NASA researchers have long conducted bed rest studies at UTMB research facilities in Galveston. These studies test the various effects of immobility (an approximation of the weightlessness of space travel) on human subjects who remain immobilized in UTMB hospital beds for weeks at a time.
When UTMB’s Specialty Care Center at Victory Lakes opened in 2010, introducing some of the most highly advanced magnetic resonance imaging systems currently available, NASA began sending its astronauts to the Victory Lakes facility to receive post-flight imaging, a protocol that previously had been carried out at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
UTMB researchers have now carried out more than 150 post-flight astronaut assessments at Victory Lakes, compiling data on the effects of weightlessness on every aspect of the human body, from the eyes to the brain to the spine to the muscles.
“UTMB is uniquely qualified to conduct this kind of research,” said Dr. Eric Walser, UTMB’s chairman of radiology. “Our divisions of Aerospace Medicine and Radiology are world leaders in the field.”
To express appreciation to UTMB for a valuable and fruitful partnership, representatives from NASA came to a special event hosted for them by UTMB at the SpecialtyCare Center at Victory Lakes Feb. 25. Dr. Jeffrey Davis, NASA Johnson Space center chief medical officer, Dr. Michael Barratt, astronaut, Jennifer Villarreal, NASA project manager and UTMB’s Dr. Roy Riascos-Casteneda, who heads up UTMB’s NASA astronaut post-flight research, all spoke about the many benefits to each institution of the new post-flight assessment research partnership.
The event included speeches, a reception and the presentation of a plaque of appreciation to UTMB from NASA.
The plaque reads “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration presents this certificate of appreciation to the Department of Radiology at the UTMB Victory Lakes Specialty Care Center, in recognition of its outstanding contributions to our agency’s clinical and research programs that strive to protect the health and safety of our crews.”