Stony Brook helps NASA to protect astronauts during the Mars missions

Dr. Rithidech recently won a NASA flight definition grant to help the nation's space agency develop effective biological countermeasures against harmful effects of the space environment.  This research is one of the 11 NASA grants awarded to 10 institutions sharing about $5.7 million in funding to investigate astronaut health and performance on future space missions.

Dr. Rithidech will participate in a flight definition project. In this project, she will use cutting edge proteomic technology to determine protein alterations, qualitatively and quantitatively, in plasma samples collected from astronauts before, during, and after space flights. Her findings will help to provide an understanding of the time course and etiology of immune changes induced by the space environment. Furthermore, since pre- and post-flight samples will be evaluated in the same astronaut (in addition to the in-flight samples) the direct effects of the space environment can be determined. Hence, her findings will provide high-priority and highly relevant information to NASA. Dr. Rithidech will further correlate protein expression profiles with the available data on immune dysfunction detected in each astronaut. This approach makes it possible to determine potential predictive biomarkers for space-flight-induced immune dysregulation. Consequently, effective countermeasures against such harmful effects of the space environment can be identified.

Dr. Rithidech was also quoted in an article published in The Baltimore Sun related to NASA's missions to Mars.