Twins in Space: The Effects of Space Travel on Humans

8232Researchers love identical twins. Because they have the same genetic code, they provide a unique opportunity to determine how environment may lead to developmental differences – i.e. nature vs. nurture.

In this new program from the Stein Institute for Research on Aging, Brinda K. Rana, PhD, shares the results of NASA’s remarkable Twins Study. In March 2015, U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly embarked on a one year mission onboard the international space station. Meanwhile, his identical twin brother, Mark, remained on Earth giving scientists an opportunity to study the long-term effects of space travel on the human body versus normal development.

Ultimately, NASA wants to know what will happen to astronauts as they inch closer to their Mission to Mars. Space is a harsh environment, both physiologically and psychologically. Astronauts must contend with microgravity, disruptions in sleep cycles, radiation, and dietary limitations, as well as confined spaces and isolation from friends and family. What will happen to astronauts after 3 years – the time it will take to get them to Mars and back again?

But these studies not only have implications for the lives of astronauts. Physiologically, space travel mimics the effects of aging on the human body, changes such as cardiovascular decline, vision problems, muscle and bone atrophy, and cognitive impairment. Any discovery that improves the lives of astronauts in space could also be used to help us right here on Earth.

Learn more about what it took to plan and execute the Twins Study, as well as some of what they’re just beginning to discover. Watch Twins in Space: The Effects of Space Travel on Humans.

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Mangroves: The Skin of Our Coasts

8232Mangroves, trees that form forests in the transition between land and sea, provide a habitat for a great diversity of plants and animals worldwide. These coastal ecosystems are invaluable to humans, supplying a number of services essential for our survival. We still do not know how much these ecosystems are worth from an economic perspective – but they are essential from an ecological perspective. Scripps Oceanography’s Octavio Aburto examines mangrove ecosystems and explains why it is vital to put enormous efforts into understanding their value.

Watch Mangroves: The Skin of Our Coasts

Check out the Jeffrey B. Graham Perspectives on Ocean Science Lecture Series archives

Honoring Sally: Tam O’Shaughnessy Aboard the R/V Sally Ride

8232Want a break from the onslaught of bad news? A chance to feel good about the world? Then spend 20 minutes with Tam O’Shaughnessy, the life partner of the late astronaut Sally Ride, as she describes a remarkable friendship that began long before Sally’s historic flights on the Space Shuttle Challenger and later blossomed into a romance that ended with Sally’s death from cancer in 2012. As Executive Director of Sally Ride Science@UC San Diego, Tam continues their mission of encouraging girls to embrace STEM.

Sitting in the pilothouse of the newly commissioned R/V Sally Ride, Tam shares her profound pride in being named the sponsor of the first naval academic research vessel ever named for a woman. Crew on the R/V Sally Ride, operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, will conduct research on the environmental issues she and Sally cared most about – understanding the universe and protecting planet Earth.

Watch Honoring Sally: Tam O’Shaughnessy Aboard the R/V Sally Ride

Studying the Brain in Real Time

8232“Basic mechanisms in the brain have universal applications and are the road to medical discovery,” says Ralph Greenspan, PhD. He has spent his career studying how genes affect the brain and behavior of the fruit fly. This research has lead to a deeper understanding of mechanisms in the human brain. Hear about his current efforts to develop a full brain scale activity map and the technological and medical breakthroughs emerging from this work.

Studying the Brain in Real Time with Ralph Greenspan – On Our Mind

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Osteoporosis Update 2017

8232How do you know if you may have Osteoporosis? Should you take calcium or vitamin D supplements? What are the best exercises to keep your bones strong? Find out in this new Stein Institute for Research on Aging program that presents the latest information on osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder that decreases bone density and strength and affects 1 in 3 women (1 in 5 men). Complications from related fractures cause more hospital time for women than many other diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer.

According to Heather Hofflich, DO, FACE, Clinical Professor of Medicine, UC San Diego Health System, fractures related to osteoporosis are often a downward spiral, and it’s important to prevent them. If you’re over 50 and experience a fracture, it’s important to alert your primary care doctor to test for bone density to see if you are at risk.

Watch Osteoporosis Update 2017 to learn more about diagnosis, secondary causes, as well as treatment and prevention options.

Browse other programs from the Stein Institute for Research on Aging.