Space Life Sciences Classes Bring NASA to UH

Courses Train Next Generation of Space Industry Professionals

Doctoral students interested in pursing careers in space life science have access to five new University of Houston courses created and taught by scientists from NASA-Johnson Space Center (JSC).

"These classes will focus on the understanding of how space flight and the microgravity environment impact the physiology of the human body and how space life scientists design experiments to simulate the space flight experience," said Charles Layne, professor and chair of the UH department of health and human performance (HHP), which will administer the classes.  "We're extremely happy to strengthen our already strong partnership with our friends at NASA and be part of training the next generation of space scientists."

The course offerings include Research Using Ground-Based Spaceflight Models, Space Physiology: Cell Biology, Space Physiology: System Physiology and two laboratory courses. All will be available in fall 2009 and will be open to students pursuing a doctorate in a science-related field, with approval from their adviser. With the exception of the labs, all courses will be taught at UH. These courses previously were offered by NASA at other facilities, but now will be incorporated into HHP curriculum.

"These classes will offer our students direct training in specific space life science topics taught by the very scientists conducting the state-of-the-art research at JSC," Layne said.

The college of education and NASA are partners through a Space Act Agreement that allows UH students and faculty and NASA scientists to share information and resources. Currently, there are several HHP students pursuing research or internships with NASA.

Some of the laboratory experiments students in this curriculum will track will be performed at the new HHP Center for Neuromotor and Biomechanics Research (CNBR) in the Texas Medical Center. The CNBR is home to a human performance laboratory dedicated to better understanding the mechanism of human movement control. It is directed by Professor William Paloski, a 23-year NASA-JSC veteran, who has researched postural stability control and sensory motor performance in astronauts during and after space flight. Currently, the CNBR is undertaking several NASA-JSC studies.

"This is a very exciting opportunity for our students and faculty to build lasting and productive partnerships with NASA's space life scientists," Layne said.

Students interested in more information on the Space Life Sciences curriculum may contact Todd Boutte at 713-743-0571,, or visit

For more information on the UH Center for Neuromotor and Biomechanics Research (CNBR), visit