Oct. 27, 1997 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin has unveiled dramatic new technological developments affecting women's health at two events on Capitol Hill. The technologies, which grew out of spin- offs from the U.S. space and aeronautics program, will usher in a new era in detection and treatment of women's health problems ranging from breast cancer to osteoporosis to reproductive health.
"As a husband, father of two daughters, and a grandfather, few subjects are as important to me as women's health," Goldin said. "That is why I am so proud of how NASA technologies, originally developed for our space and aeronautics programs, improve health care for women, men and children around the world."
In the first event, NASA signed an agreement enlisting NASA technologies to fight breast cancer and other women's illnesses. The agreement was signed by Dr. Henry McDonald, Director of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, and Dr. Susan Blumenthal, Assistant Surgeon General and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women's Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At the signing ceremony, Goldin and McDonald demonstrated for Blumenthal six advanced technologies resulting from the U.S. space and aeronautics program that can dramatically influence the state of women's health.
The agreement between NASA and HHS establishes a cooperative framework between Ames and the Office on Women's Health to identify, develop and transfer NASA technologies to benefit women's health. Major areas of concern are cancer, reproductive health, pregnancy, osteoporosis and education.
The technologies demonstrated included the new robotic "Smart Surgical Probe"; technology to allow three-dimensional "planning" for breast reconstruction, as is currently done for facial reconstruction surgery; and a device to predict an individual's specific risk of contracting osteoporosis.
At the second event, Goldin was the keynote speaker at a luncheon sponsored by the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues discussing "Space Technology Contributions to Breast Cancer Research." He highlighted several NASA research and technology programs that help scientists and doctors understand, diagnose and treat breast cancer.
"Part of the breast cancer story is that it kills thousands every year," Goldin said. "However, this tragic statistic does not tell the whole story. The rest of the story is one of hope. It's a story of strength and grace and awesome courage. At NASA, we are proud to be part of this story. Before today, Americans may not have connected NASA with the fight against breast cancer. They may not know that NASA is on the front line for women's health. We are pushing the edge of the envelope, developing state-of-the-art technologies that will help save women's lives."
NASA Astronaut Mary Ellen Weber, Ph.D., explained how NASA efforts to grow human cells and tissue in space help researchers understand cancer and the response of the human immune system. Dr. Carolyn Krebs of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, provided information on the way technology allowing the Hubble Space Telescope to map distant stars is being used in doctors' offices today to easily detect tiny spots in breast tissue, using a needle for biopsy rather than surgery.
More information on the NASA technologies described above can be obtained from the NASA home page at URL: http://www.nasa.gov/today/index.html
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