Results of life sciences research in space to be presented in Cologne

20 June 2005

ESA PR 32-2005. On 26 June, the 9th European Symposium on Life Sciences Research in Space will commence its proceedings at the Maternushaus in Cologne, Germany.

During the four-day gathering, biologists and medical researchers will present the latest results of their current space research. The event is being hosted by the European Space Agency (ESA) together with the International Society for Gravitational Physiology (ISGP) and coincides with the 26th International Gravitational Physiology Meeting.

The participants will be focusing on the theme of ‘Life in Space for Life on Earth’. This provides an opportunity for biologists, physicians and physiological scientists from around the world to share their findings from experiments performed onboard the International Space Station, its predecessors and other research platforms such as drop towers, parabolic flights, sounding rockets, Foton missions and bed-rest studies.

During the sessions, other researchers will present papers on the effects of gravitational changes on the physiology and behaviour of humans, animals, plants and cells. The presentations will cover the effects of weightlessness during spaceflight, acute and chronic acceleration, impact and vibration, as well as the various forms of real and simulated microgravity. The evolutionary consequences of gravity and the role of gravity in animal and plant growth will be also addressed by the scientists.

Four half-day symposia will cover concepts relating to gravitational physiology, artificial gravity, the evolution of gravity-sensing in cells and humans and the effects of gravity on gene expression. The symposia will also highlight the important findings of space physiology and psychology studies, with invited researchers presenting their papers. There will also be additional oral and poster presentations based on contributions from the international science community in the field of biological research.

Preliminary findings of the Women International Space Simulation for Exploration (WISE), which is currently under way, will also be presented. Since March, twelve women from seven European countries have been confined to bed at the French Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology (MEDES) in Toulouse. At the beginning of June, the twelve participants in this first campaign got back on their feet. Some of the volunteers will attend the conference and talk about the experience. ESA project manager Peter Jost will present and explain the preliminary results of this exercise, the longest female bed-rest experiment ever conducted in Europe. He will also report on preparations for the second campaign scheduled for the autumn and on ESA’s five-year strategic plan for bed-rest studies.

For the second time, the European Symposium on Life Sciences Research in Space will also be focusing on young researchers. Exceptionally talented newcomers previously not involved in space research have been encouraged to submit abstracts and present their research. 60 students submitted abstracts and the vast majority have been selected to display their posters or present papers. Selection was based on the scientific merits of the summaries submitted.

The entire symposium is open to the media. In addition, for the first time at an event of this kind, ESA is organising a special overview session specially tailored for the media, with presentations of selected scientific disciplines given in layman's language. This session will take place on Monday 27 June from 14:00 to 17:00, featuring the following presentations:

  • Dr. Marc Heppener, Head of ISS Utilisation and Promotion Division, ESA
    Subject: “ESA’s Programme for Spaceflight-related Research”
  • Dr. Peter Norsk, Professor, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark, ISGP Chairman
    Subject: “Heart Function and Blood Pressure in Weightlessness”
  • Dr. Martina Heer, Professor, Head of Space Physiology, DLR, Germany
    Subject: “The Importance of Proper Nutrition in Space”
  • Dr. Dag Linnarsson, Professor, Section of Environmental Physiology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
    Subject: “Commonalities between Space Walks and Diving”
  • Dr. Pietro di Prampero, Professor, University of Udine, Italy
    Subject: “Bringing Gravity to Space”
  • Dr. Peter Jost, Life Science Medical Doctor, ESA
    Subject: “The Ongoing ESA-lead Bed-rest Study with Female Subjects. Planning for Future Activities”

Media representatives wishing to attend this media opportunity are requested to register using the attached form.

Further information on the symposium itself is available at http://www.congrex.nl

For further information, please contact:

Franco Bonacina
ESA Media Relations Division
Tel: +33(0)1.5369.7155
Fax: +33(0)1.5369.7690

Dieter Isakeit
Directorate of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration Programmes
Tel: +31(0)71.565.5451
Fax: +31(0)71.565.8008

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