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NASA awards $9.8 million NSCOR grant to UT Southwestern to study effects of space radiation exposure

DALLAS Feb. 24, 2005 UT Southwestern Medical Center has won a highly competitive, $9.8 million NASA Specialized Center of Research (NSCOR) grant that will allow researchers to study the effects of radiation on astronauts and minimize possible health risks caused by future space travel.

"This builds on outstanding lung cancer and radiation biology research at UT Southwestern that will now focus on how to protect us from the dangerous effects of radiation exposure in space as well as here at home," said Dr. James Willson, director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The five-year research grant establishes a NASA Specialized Center of Research for the Estimation of Solid Tumor Cancer Risks from Space Radiation. NSCORs are responsible for expanding knowledge in the biological and biomedical sciences and technology arenas to enable human space flight and long-term planetary missions.

Eleven proposals were submitted to NASA. UT Southwestern and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School were each selected by peer review for the grant, joining existing centers at Colorado State University, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and Loma Linda University.

For the $9.8 million "Lung Cancer Pathogenesis and HZE Particle Exposure" study, data will be obtained from new human cell systems and animal models developed at UT Southwestern. HZE particles are high mass and energy ionized particles that make up a portion of the cosmic ray background of space. These highly ionizing particles have the potential for severe health implications for astronauts. The information researchers obtain will be converted into quantitative risk assessment for the effects of radiation from space travel. "There are multiple risks to astronauts from space travel, and a very important one is the potential effect of exposure to high-energy particles found in space," said Dr. John Minna, director of the new NASA center at UT Southwestern, as well
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Contact: Scott Maier
scott.maier@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
24-Feb-2005


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