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Science On Tap: Don’t lose heart on the way to Mars
March 28, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Space travel exposes the body to low-dose radiation (LDR) that poses significant health risks to astronauts on extended missions beyond Earth’s orbit. This is a particular concern to NASA and spaceflight personnel hoping to complete a manned mission to Mars by 2033. Studies in mice suggest that the heart may age faster in response to prolonged LDR, which may limit human’s ability to explore deep space and ultimately colonize other worlds. In studies funded by NASA in collaboration with Stanford University, researchers at CSU are using synthetic “human hearts on a chip” to study how simulated space radiation damages the heart, and develop countermeasures against this. In my presentation, I will discuss our work on this project and highlight new discoveries that may one day lead to treatments used to maintain the heart health of astronauts and support deep space exploration to Mars and beyond.
Luke Whitcomb is a research scientist at Colorado State University, working under Dr. Adam Chicco. He received his Masters degree in Biomedical Sciences in 2022 and is currently engaged in a number of projects broadly related to cellular adaptation to environmental stressors. The Chicco lab, collaborating with Stanford University, received funding from Translational Research Institute for Space Health (a partner of NASA) to use cutting-edge new approaches to study the effects of space irradiation on human heart cells.