The NASA Twins Study

Dr Francine Garrett-Bakelman (a.k.a. Fran), a physician scientist in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, was one of the first co-authors on a Science paper published on April 12, 2019 (The NASA Twins Study). This publication is a comprehensive molecular, biological, and physiological survey of the NASA Twins Study subjects. Fran was a co-investigator on a grant to Weill Cornell Medicine which supported this work.

Fran initiated her involvement in the NASA Twins Study in 2014 while she was an Instructor in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. She participated in the development of protocols for blood processing on earth and on the International Space Station, was an integral member of the small group of individuals who processed the blood and plasma specimens collected during the study (2014-2016), she helped with data generation, analysis and interpretation focused on gene expression, and she was one of the lead writers of the paper published in Science.

The main findings of the study were that: 1. The human body was adaptable to space environment living and upon return to earth most parameters that changed with space flight returned to pre-flight status, 2. Most parameters measured, including response to vaccination, epigenetic (DNA methylation) changes, gut flora diversity and others, did not change during space flight more than what would be expected on earth, 3. a minority of gene expression changes detected with space flight remained changed 6 months after return from space, and 4. Surprisingly, telomere length increased during space flight and returned decreased upon return to earth. The full results can be found in the publication at: The NASA Twins Study: A multidimensional analysis of a year-long human spaceflight.

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