Contact: Adrian LeBlanc
Columbia, MD, November 10, 2008 - The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is proud to announce the 25th anniversary of its Division of Space Life Sciences (DSLS). Founded in 1983 as the Division of Space Biomedicine, for the purpose of advancing space medicine through interaction between NASA Johnson Space Center and the national and international community of researchers in universities and medical schools, DSLS enjoys a highly successful partnership with NASA that continues to produce significant results in all areas of life sciences research and management. Over the past quarter century, DSLS technical and scientific contributions have spanned a broad range of mission areas that include Space Shuttle and Shuttle-Mir missions and the construction and occupation of the International Space Station as an orbiting laboratory. DSLS experience and expertise will continue to provide support for exploration flights being planned for the next decade. While still vigorously pursuing its original mission, DSLS has grown significantly since its founding and is today even better equipped to support NASA life sciences with a robust scientist program as well as extramural support and education programs.
During an address given at the DSLS 25th Anniversary celebration, held on November 3 at USRA's Houston facility, Division Director Dr. Adrian LeBlanc noted the particular importance of life sciences in space exploration. "Astronomy, robotics, and Hubble pictures are extremely important and very exciting for all of us," Dr. LeBlanc commented, "But life science adds the very important human element to the space program. Space exploration becomes very real to the public when astronauts are involved and we in the life sciences have been given the task of enabling those astronauts to live and be productive in space - no matter what the mission."
Celebrating this anniversary along with Dr. LeBlanc and USRA CEO and President Dr. Frederick A. Tarantino were former DSLS Directors Dr. Alfred C. Coats and Dr. Harrison Schmitt who, as well as being a distinguished geologist, former US Senator from New Mexico, and the last astronaut to walk on the Moon, was the Division's first Director. "USRA's Division of Space Life Sciences has seen remarkable growth and maturity and has made significant contributions to the life sciences since it began 25 years ago," said Dr. Schmitt, "I am privileged to have been associated with its beginnings."
In commemorating this anniversary, Dr. Tarantino emphasized USRA's pride in the Division and in the work performed there, stating that "DSLS represents a precious concentration of experience and expertise in the life sciences related to space flight and space exploration. Work done by it is critical to our ability to pursue manned space missions. We could not be prouder of the DSLS staff, past and present, and of the vital contributions that they continue to make to the field of space medicine."
The Universities Space Research Association, established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, is a private, nonprofit consortium of 102 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA's mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote education and policy across the breadth of space science, and operate premier science and technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the USRA Division of Space Life Sciences are former DSLS Director Dr. Alfred C. Coats, current Director Dr. Adrian LeBlanc and Dr. Harrison Schmitt who, as well as being a distinguished geologist, former US Senator from New Mexico, and the last astronaut to walk on the Moon, was the Division's first Director.