An experiment being conducted in a University biology lab will
soon blast off to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the
SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The flight, which will be the first
commercial flight to the ISS, is currently scheduled for April
When astronauts spend extended periods of time in space, they experience significant bone loss as well as muscle loss. Under the guidance of Aime Levesque, assistant professor of biology, and her student Robert Lipski '12, two seniors at the University High School of Science and Engineering and four eighth-graders from the Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School are looking into whether there is a way to counteract the effect of microgravity on bone density.
It has been shown that parathyroid hormone, which is normally found in the body, will increase bone cell growth. So the students are testing to see whether parathyroid hormone will have that same effect in space. This experiment has applications for astronauts in space, but it could also impact people on earth.
“Maybe our research in space can help people on earth who have osteoporosis,” said Liam Flannery, an eighth-grade student at Annie Fisher.
This opportunity was made possible by the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program and NanoRacks, LLC. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in partnership with Nanoracks, LLC. This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.
The student team has also been working with mentors from Yale University and Hamilton Sundstrand. Funding for the program was provided by the V.A. Vance Foundation. Cells for the experiment were donated by Lonza.