Exomedicine 2016: Recapped

If you were unable to attend this year’s Exomedicine conference, here’s an update with some of the inspiring conversations that occurred:

David Wolf
The conference began with a discussion by former Astronaut David Wolf. He talked not only about his personal time in space, but also of the potentials of medical advancement through microgravity research. Dr. Wolf developed the American Flight Echocardiograph with NASA, allowing cardiovascular data of astronauts to be obtained. He then became the Chief Engineer for the Space Station Medical facility design, expanding technological capabilities in telemedicine, medical informatics, and bioinstrumentation on the International Space Station. Dr. Wolf was also Chief engineer of the “Space Bioreactor” project, a tissue-engineering system and cancer research program. This method is used both in space and on earth today. Dr. Wolf’s work represents the goals of exomedicine- discovery in space for applications on Earth.

Dr. Wolf also helped to inspire conference attendees to think of gravity as a resource, rather than a constant or a barrier. If we can change our perspective about the potentials of research in microgravity, we can redefine the limits of our discovery.

Space Potential

After that, we heard from multiple innovators about the untapped potentials of space.

Twyman Clements- Space Tango
Twyman Clements, CEO of Space Tango, presented about our cube lab designs, helping to demonstrate that research in microgravity is possible with the right tools. Space Tango works to make this kind of research accessible to companies and academics alike. Using a cloud based portal system, researchers can have real-time access to data from the station, enhancing the capabilities for ground modeling systems back on earth.

Microgravity Biomedical Outcomes and Implications- CASIS
Michael Roberts from CASIS discussed how technology advancements on ISS give researchers more control over their experimentation. The International Space Station is equipped for a multitude of research platforms, whether it be small-scale experiments like Space Tango’s cube labs, or larger, more involved experimentation such as animal models. From research on cancer systems, regenerative medicine, neurodegenerative diseases, protein crystallization and more, experimentation in space can help us unlock solutions to problems we face here on Earth.

Emerging Exomed missions and ideas
From growing plants, to culturing tissue and everything in-between, if you can design it on earth, you can complete it in space. Researchers Diane Snow, Joe Chappell, Luke Bradley, and Gentry Barnett discussed some of the exomedicine research that they’ve been designing, and what the future may hold for research in microgravity.

Bioengineering and Biomanufacturing in space
The only thing cooler than 3-d printing is 3-d printing in space. Microgravity conditions pose potentials not only for biomedical manufacturing, but materials manufacturing as well.

Student Sourcing
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is changing peoples’ perspective- helping them to realize that research in microgravity is possible. One way to combat this issue is by intercepting those perceptions at the source: students. By helping young, innovative students see the potentials of space, we can expand our boundaries for discovery even more.

“There’s a sweet spot between knowing too much and not knowing enough.” Students often fall into this category, fresh in their education with room to learn, but still open enough to ask difficult questions and dream big about potentials for discovery. Anthony Mires, from Advance Kentucky, encapsulated this idea perfectly when he said, “If you give students the opportunity to think big and challenge themselves, they’ll do it.”

As with any conference, some of the greatest outcomes result from connecting with other members of the industry and engaging in thought-provoking conversations. If you were unable to come this year, we hope that you can join these conversations in the future!