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GUMC young scientist selected postdoc Fellow at National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Washington, DC The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) has selected Daniela Trani, PhD, of Georgetown University Medical Center as one of four young investigators in the nation for its 2008-2010 Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Trani is a postdoctoral fellow in Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology.

In the NSBRI, the Fellows' research projects address areas of interest to exploration missions and include investigating methods to maintain bone health and stimulate bone rebuilding. Additionally, the Fellows examine the acute effects of space radiation exposure to determine whether there are adverse as well as radioprotective changes in cells following proton exposure.

Trani's research will investigate injury responses including inflammatory signaling induced by space radiation. The study will use a genetic approach in an in vivo model to investigate the effects of radiation-induced inflammatory signaling on cellular and molecular parameters in the intestine. Exposures, such as during a solar storm, could impact crew performance by perturbing gastrointestinal function.

"As the space program prepares for larger crews on the International Space Station and plans a return to the moon, America needs young scientists with a keen interest in solving the human health problems related to long stays in space," said Jeffrey P. Sutton, PhD, MD, NSBRI director.

The two-year program offers Fellows the opportunity to manage their own space-related biomedical research project while continuing to learn from an experienced faculty mentor. Trani is a research fellow in her mentor's lab, Albert J. Fornace Jr., MD, a professor of oncology who holds the Molecular Cancer Research Chair at Lombardi.

NSBRI Fellows receive a $40,000 stipend and funds to cover health insurance and travel to NSBRI-related meetings. Fellows also attend a summer institute that provides an introduction to NASA Johnson Space Center's research facilities and programs.

"The NSBRI Fellowship represents a unique opportunity to pursue my research related to NASA-Life Science Program in an unique scientific environment and with the mentorship of an outstanding scientist like Dr. Fornace. My training will benefit from the constant interaction with investigators on the NSBRI Radiation Effects Team whose research is focused on determining the risks posed by space radiation exposure and on developing countermeasures to minimize these risks. Furthermore, the multidisciplinary training I will receive in Dr. Fornace's lab will contribute to expand my skills and to broaden my perspective on space radiobiology problems."

To be selected, applicants submit detailed research project proposals to investigate a solution to a space health risk or to develop a technology needed to enable research or medical care in space. The research must involve a mentor and be carried out at a U.S. laboratory doing space-related biomedical or biotechnological research.

Funded by NASA, NSBRI studies the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight with peer-reviewed science, technology and education projects at more than 60 institutions across the United States.

The Institute's science and technology projects address bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular changes, balance and orientation, radiation exposure, neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors, remote medical care and related technologies, and habitability and performance issues such as sleep cycles and lunar dust exposure. Research findings also impact the understanding and treatment of similar medical conditions experienced on Earth.


Contact: Karen Mallet
Georgetown University Medical Center

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