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Sutton to direct National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Associate Professor Jeffrey P. Sutton has been named director of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, a consortium of biomedical institutions dedicated to solving the health-related problems and physical and psychological challenges that astronauts will face on long-duration space flights.

Sutton succeeds Laurence R. Young, the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at MIT, who was the organization's inaugural director since its founding in 1997.

National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) research projects address bone loss, muscle weakening, cardiovascular changes, remote medical care, sleep and human performance, immunology and infection, balance and orientation, radiation exposure, neurobehavioral and psychosocial issues, nutrition, physical fitness and rehabilitation. The findings will also affect the understanding and treatment of medical conditions experienced on Earth.

"The future of human space exploration is dependent on successful countermeasures to maintain astronaut health and well-being," Sutton said.

As director, Sutton is responsible for the overall scientific direction of the Institute's research and education programs. Funded by NASA, the Institute currently supports 87 peer-reviewed projects involving scientists at 71 research institutions.

"Dr. Sutton possesses superb medical and leadership skills. His enthusiasm for the human exploration of space will benefit our work addressing the health of future space travelers," said Dr. Bobby R. Alford, board chairman and chief executive officer of NSBRI.

Sutton currently leads the NSBRI's Smart Medical Systems and Technology Development teams. He will leave his present positions as head of the Neural Systems Group at the Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

He holds a medical degree, a master's degree in medical science and a doctorate in theoretical physics, all from the University of Toronto. He completed his residency at Harvard Medical School and is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology. Sutton's research interests are in human brain mechanisms, including sleep and learning, and the design and application of artificial neural networks.

Established in 1997 through a NASA competition, the NSBRI includes Baylor College of Medicine, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Harvard, the Johns Hopkins University, MIT, the Morehouse School of Medicine, the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the University of Washington.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 12, 2001.

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