The National Institutes of Health and NASA have signed an agreement that will permit NIH scientists to use the International Space Station for medical research.
According to the memorandum of understanding, the space station will be designated as a national laboratory where medical researchers may conduct experiments and long-term studies on a variety of medical conditions. The near-gravity-free environment will allow researchers to consider gravitys effect on bone and muscle deterioration, balance disorders, disease development and other conditions.
The station provides a unique environment where researchers can explore fundamental questions about human health issuesincluding how the human body heals itself, fights infection or develops diseases such as cancer or osteoporosis, said NIH Director Elias Zerhouni in a news release.
The partnership arrangement calls for NASA and NIH scientists to share information and provide technical expertise in areas of common interest, according to a joint news release. The two agencies will also co-publish research findings and other materials. -- by Shawn Rhea
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