Space Medicine


Spring 2021

Tu, 5:15 - 6:45PM,online section of 59.32

Astronauts need doctors too! Even better, there’s an astronaut physician in space right now. With $5.8 billion invested in private space companies in 2019 and NASA’s annual budget increased to $25 billion for 2020, humans are venturing further into space, our final frontier. And wherever we go, so does medicine. This course will explore how medicine changes in the unique "environment" of outer space and how the nascent field of Space Medicine is being revolutionized by pioneers at NASA, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Colorado, and here at Duke! It’s a fly by of all the interesting topics that make space such a dangerous place and how humanity is overcoming these barriers. We will have science demonstrations courtesy of Dr. Ronen Plesser to bring physics to life, emergency medicine lessons from flight surgeons and flight nurses, and video calls with NASA Doctors! Space travel has an incredible history and future and we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the origins of Space Medicine as well as changes when humans begin commercial space exploration. Part of the allure of space is the diculty of traveling there. So what happens when an astronaut becomes acutely ill halfway to Mars with no way of turning around? Ethics become quite difficult in space and writing laws before events occur becomes very important. Better yet, how can engineering solutions solve health problems before they occur? This course looks at all of Space Medicine and so it’s impossible for anyone to be an expert in all of these fields. We assume no background in medicine, engineering, law, ethics, or economics. You don’t need to be a premed, just curious about the future of mankind.

  • Dominic Tanzillo,
  • Nick Saba, nicholas.saba@duke.eduedu
  • Ronen Plesser, Physics
Class Limit