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Author(s): David R. Caprette, PhD
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Seeking Countermeasures to the Deleterious Effects of Space Travel on Skeletal Muscle

The goals of this presentation are to provide a brief synopsis of the key properties of the skeletal muscle system, and to examine the system’s inherent dependence on the force of gravity. We will investigate what happens to the muscles when gravity is eliminated, as during prolonged exposure to space flight or under conditions of prolonged bed rest (an analogue of spaceflight). We also will formulate a strategy to maintain the integrity and functionality of skeletal muscle in the absence of gravity. Finally, we will apply some of the knowledge gained from the space program to enable individuals to live more productive lives on Earth.

My name is Ken Baldwin. I am Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of California-Irvine. I am also the team leader for the Skeletal Muscle and Authorizations Team of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. Today, I am going to talk to you about the skeletal muscle system, the largest organ system in the body, and probably the body system most dependent upon gravity or mechanical stress for normal health. I also will talk about seeking countermeasures to the deleterious effects of space travel on this system.