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February 3, 2003

School Conducted Experiment Aboard Space Shuttle

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health joins the nation and the world in mourning the loss of the seven astronauts of the space shuttle Columbia, who gave their lives in the pursuit of science. The School was one of many institutions participating in research experiments aboard Columbia. Kimberly O’Brien, PhD, associate professor with the Department of International Health and the Center for Human Nutrition, was an investigator on a study to determine the rates of calcium absorption and excretion and the rates of bone calcium deposition and resorption during space flight. The information could help deepen the understanding of how astronauts recover these systems after returning to Earth.

The study employed stable calcium isotope tracers to explore how and why weightlessness during space flight induces bone loss. The bone loss astronauts experience is similar to that experienced by individuals with osteoporosis. By administering oral and intravenous calcium tracers to astronauts before, during, and after the space shuttle flight, investigators hoped to learn how calcium metabolism changed when humans are in space.

NASA Press Kit

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.