HA Medical Advisory Board Member Receives Grant from NASA
Congratulations to Michael A. Williams, M.D., medical director of The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute (BSI) at LifeBridge Health. Dr. Williams, who is a member of the Hydrocephalus Association’s Medical Advisory Board , and served as the co-chair of our 12th National Conference on Hydrocephalus, recently received a grant of approximately one million dollars from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) and NASA’s Human Research Program to help investigate questions about astronaut health and performance on future deep-space exploration missions. The press release follows. Please click here to read Dr. Williams biographical sketch.
Sinai Hospital Awarded Grant to Help Investigate Effects of Spaceflight on Astronauts
Baltimore, MD – July 26, 2012 – Sinai Hospital of Baltimore has been awarded one of 29 grants by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) and NASA’s Human Research Program to help investigate questions about astronaut health and performance on future deep-space exploration missions. The approximately $1 million grant from NSBRI will fund a three-year project, which will be led by Michael A. Williams, M.D., medical director of The Sandra and Malcolm Berman Brain & Spine Institute (BSI) at LifeBridge Health. The project will assess the accuracy of two noninvasive methods of measuring spinal fluid pressure, also known as intracranial pressure (ICP), as compared to measuring ICP via spinal tap. Vision problems experienced by astronauts in long-term spaceflight have been linked to elevated ICP caused by extended exposure to microgravity.
The project will play an important role in the validation of these methods of measuring ICP in a microgravity environment. This is particularly important because invasive procedures such as a spinal tap are not possible in space. Currently, noninvasive measurement methods are not accurate enough to make crucial diagnostic and therapeutic decisions for astronauts in spaceflight.
“We are excited that we have been selected to conduct this research for NSBRI,” said Dr. Williams. “The validation of the accuracy of noninvasive ICP methods is of utmost importance for the health and safety of astronauts in long-duration spaceflight. We hope that our research will lead to the development of spaceflight-worthy, noninvasive ICP measurement devices. In addition, the validation of reliable, portable, noninvasive methods of this measurement would dramatically improve the care for thousands of children, adults and elderly who have chronic disorders of ICP such as hydrocephalus and intracranial hypertension, who currently require a spinal tap or other invasive techniques to assess spinal fluid pressure or who have to have CT scans when abnormal ICP is suspected.”
The research group, which includes U.S. and international collaborators, will gauge the accuracy of two noninvasive methods that estimate ICP through the auditory system: tympanic membrane displacement (TMD) and distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE). Human patients aged 18 to 65 years who require continuous ICP monitoring will participate in the study.
For more information about NSBRI, NASA’s Human Research Program and the complete list of selected projects, go here.
The BSI is one of the only integrated inpatient and outpatient programs in Maryland dedicated to improving outcomes in patients with diseases of the nervous system and spine.