Health Care

Advancing Medicine on Earth Through Research in Space

May 19, 2021  • Aspen Ideas: Health

Medical research in space may seem a little… out there. But the microgravity environment has allowed astronauts to conduct health-related experiments and learn about the human body in unique ways to help advance science and medicine on Earth. During Aspen Ideas: Health 2021, NASA Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor discussed life and research on the International Space Station with Hayley Arceneaux, a Physician Assistant and cancer survivor, who will soon orbit the Earth as a member of the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission. Watch the conversation about this new frontier of biomedical research, moderated by Tom Costello of NBC News. 

About the Speakers:

Hayley Arceneaux is a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she was treated as a child and which she will represent on the SpaceX Inspiration4 mission to space. Arceneaux was ten years old when she was diagnosed with bone cancer, then underwent chemotherapy and surgery at St. Jude. She became an ambassador for the organization, volunteering as a “gratitude administrator” in the Blood Donor Center and sharing her story to raise funds and awareness. In 2013, she returned as a summer intern in the Pediatric Oncology Education program, and after obtaining her physician assistant degree in 2016, she now works with leukemia and lymphoma patients as a bilingual care provider.

Serena Auñón-Chancellor is a NASA astronaut and associate professor of clinical medicine at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Board certified in internal and aerospace medicine, she was a flight engineer for NASA’s 2018 expedition to the International Space Station, spending 197 days in space and contributing to experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth sciences. Prior to her selection to the astronaut corps in 2009, Auñón-Chancellor spent three years as a NASA flight surgeon. She is also associate program director for the Aerospace Medicine Residency Program at University of Texas Medical Branch. Her research interests include spaceflight-associated health outcomes, space radiation clinical outcomes, and thrombosis in the microgravity environment.

Costello Tom Aih2021

Tom Costello is an NBC News correspondent based in Washington, DC, reporting regularly across all NBC News and MSNBC platforms, including “TODAY,” “NBC Nightly News,” and CNBC. He covers aviation and transportation, space exploration, cybersecurity, and economics. Prior to joining NBC News in 2005, Costello was an anchor and correspondent with CNBC and CNBC International. Earlier in his career, he covered news for TV stations in Denver and El Paso. Costello’s honors include national and regional Emmy awards, multiple Edward R. Murrow awards, the National Headliner Awards, Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Awards, DuPont Awards, and recognition from the Associated Press, Gannett, and the Radio Television Digital News Association.