Dr. Scott E. Parazynski has been named the Chief Medical Officer and Director of the new Center for Polar Medical Operations at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
In this role, he will oversee the medical screening and on-ice care of all personnel in the National Science Foundation's United States Antarctic Program.
“We are pleased that Scott Parazynski will be leading our expanded polar operations,” said UTMB President Dr. David L. Callender. “His remarkable career and professional accomplishments lend themselves to this new endeavor.”
Parazynski is looking forward to his new role at UTMB and in the Antarctic.
“Antarctica is the most remote and extreme place on earth to live and work,” said Parazynski. “It’s our responsibility and privilege to assure those traveling there are physically up to the challenge and have the medical support they need once they get there.”
Parazynski, who was selected by NASA for the astronaut corps in 1992, is no stranger to extreme environments. During his 17-year career with the space agency, he flew on five shuttle missions and conducted seven spacewalks, spending more than eight weeks in space and 47 hours outside the vehicle. He served as the personal physician to Sen. John Glenn, one of the original Mercury astronauts, when he returned to space in his 77th year.
Parazynski began mountain climbing in his teens, and has climbed in the Alaska Range, the Cascades, the Rockies, the Alps, the Andes and the Himalayas. On his second attempt to scale Mount Everest, on May 20, 2009, he became the first astronaut to stand on top of the world. Additionally, as part of a NASA-sponsored expedition to the high Andes, he conducted a scientific dive in the summit caldera lake of 19,700-foot Licancabur volcano, the world’s highest lake.
Parazynski is also a commercial, instrument, multiengine and seaplane-rated pilot with over 2,500 flight hours.
Parazynski received his undergraduate degree in biology from Stanford University, where he also completed his medical degree, graduating with honors in 1989. He was selected to join NASA’s astronaut corps while still in Emergency Medicine residency training in 1992. After leaving NASA in 2008 he has worked in senior leadership positions in both the aerospace and medical research industries, and has been instrumental in the development of numerous medical devices and other technologies for supporting life in extreme environments.