Research in flight: Photos show astronaut participant in Ottawa MARROW study

October 6, 2016

Photo: NASA

NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams conducts a breath sample collection for the Canadian experiment MARROW on board the International Space Station. MARROW studies how a lack of physical activity affects the bone marrow production of normally functioning blood cells. By measuring carbon monoxide levels in breath samples, researchers monitor the degradation of red blood cells. The results may also improve the rehabilitation of bedridden patients, those with reduced mobility, and seniors on Earth.

These photos give a unique glance into research led by Dr. Guy Trudel, a professor at the University of Ottawa and Physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Centre of The Ottawa Hospital. His team is studying the bone marrow health of 10 astronauts over the course of their six-month missions as well as the year after they return. While ground staff conduct the pre- and post- flight blood and assist with breath sampling, the astronauts take these samples all by themselves once they’re in space. The weightless environment adds extra challenge to procedures like taking blood or breath and Dr. Trudel’s team worked with the CSA team to come up with a working solution for the breath samples. The goal of the study is to gain better understanding of the effects of extended space travel on bone marrow health and blood cell metabolism, findings that could also be applied to patients on Earth who are bedridden for long periods of time and need rehabilitation.

Co-investigators: Odette Laneuville, Adnan Sheikh, Ian Cameron, Alain Stintzi, Tim Ramsay, Hakim Louati, Theresa Backlund and Paola Sebastiani.

Funded by: The Canadian Space Agency

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The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals with over 1,100 beds, approximately 12,000 staff and an annual budget of over $1.2 billion. Our focus on research and learning helps us develop new and innovative ways to treat patients and improve care. As a multi-campus hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, we deliver specialized care to the Eastern Ontario region, but our techniques and research discoveries are adopted around the world. We engage the community at all levels to support our vision for better patient care. See for more information about research at The Ottawa Hospital.

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Amelia Buchanan
Senior Communication Specialist
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Office: 613-798-5555 x 73687
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