New NASA and NSBRI report on sex and gender differences in adaptation to space flight

November 17, 2014, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

In the future, as space exploration takes astronauts on longer missions and more female astronauts participate, "The Impact of Sex and Gender on Adaptation to Space" will become increasingly critical to astronaut safety and mission success, as explored in a special collection of articles published in Journal of Women's Health.

In the Executive Summary, Drs. Saralyn Mark, Graham Scott, Dorit Donoviel, Lauren Leveton, John Charles, and Bette Siegel and Ms. Erin Mahoney from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), and Valador, Inc. provide an overview of six individual articles in the November issue of the Journal derived from the findings of workgroups formed to report on the current research related to sex- and gender-based differences in how humans adapt to spaceflight. Each workgroup and article focuses on a specific type of adaptation: cardiovascular, immunological, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal, reproductive, and behavioral.

In her Commentary, Dr. Mark remarks that in addition to ongoing missions for the purpose of and research, "NASA has promoted the development of the commercial sector for the transport of payloads and eventually humans." The impact of sex and gender should influence "the development of equipment, machine-human interfaces, and countermeasures including the use of personalized medicine and genomics or -'astro-omics.'"

"Understanding sex and in physiological and psychological adaptation to space is increasingly important as the number of female astronauts increases," says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women's Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women's Health.

Explore further: Gender stereotypes keep women in the out-group

More information: The articles are available Open Access on the Journal of Women's Health website at

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