Baylor College of Medicine

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Credit: Simon Payne/AAD
Dr. Jeff Ayton, AAP Chief Medical Officer (left) and Dr. Emmanuel Urquieta, TRISH Chief Medical Officer (right), are leading the collaborative work in Antarctica.   Credit: Simon Payne/AAD
Dr. Jeff Ayton, AAP Chief Medical Officer (left) and Dr. Emmanuel Urquieta, TRISH Chief Medical Officer (right), are leading the collaborative work in Antarctica. Credit: Simon Payne/AAD

BCM, Australian Antarctic Division announce agreement to advance collaboration in space health research

Aaron Nieto


Houston, TX -

A new agreement between Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine and the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) will enable a new international collaboration for scientific research and discovery in the field of space health to better understand human resilience and behavioral health in remote and isolated environments resembling the challenges of spaceflight.

The collaboration between AAD’s Polar Medicine Unit and the Center for Space Medicine and the Center’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) will outline priorities and nominate pilot projects for the 2024-2025AAD winter season. The TRISH consortium will select project proposals in the coming months for consideration in the program. Proposals addressing behavioral challenges associated with extreme isolation and the need to develop advanced autonomous medical care needed for long-duration space travel are of specific interest. The products developed and matured through this collaboration also could be relevant to addressing the challenges of delivering healthcare to remote communities on Earth. 

“There is tremendous value in transcending national borders in the interest of scientific discovery. Our international collaboration with the AAD will extract insights to benefit all future astronauts, as well as other explorers of extreme environments,” said Dr. Dorit Donoviel, associate professor in the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor and TRISH executive director. “This agreement marks the beginning of yet another exciting venture into space health research for TRISH, and we look forward to collaborating with the AAD to advance our shared goal of promoting safe human exploration.” 

Space travel can be physically and mentally challenging for astronauts, as well as for private space travelers, requiring practical solutions to assure their well-being during and after missions. The TRISH-AAD collaboration will create opportunities for experts in space and health science disciplines to collaborate, exchange and expand on insights and learnings, and increase knowledge of the vulnerabilities of humans when in extreme environments. 


Findings from this collaboration will lead to new health and performance diagnostics and countermeasures that may lead to meaningful health advances for NASA’s future trips to the Moon and Mars and on upcoming commercial space flights, as well new solutions for Earth-based medical care.

“Our collaboration with TRISH unifies the resources and competencies of two leading research institutes for the improvement of human health,” said Dr. Jeff Ayton, AAD chief medical officer. “This multidisciplinary, multi-year collaboration will capitalize on the similarities of research in the deep Antarctic and in space, especially when it comes to behavioral health and the effects of prolonged isolation.”

The Australian Antarctic Division, based in Hobart, Tasmania, leads the Australian Antarctic Program. The partnership undertakes scientific research in Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic and the Southern Ocean. The AAD is part of the Australian Government’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

TRISH is an applied space health research catalyst empowered by the NASA Human Research Program to solve the challenges of human deep space exploration. Led by Baylor College of Medicine's Center for Space Medicine, the consortium leverages partnerships with Caltech and MIT. 

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