UCLA launches first-of-its-kind physician-only space training program – CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – As more humans head to space, UCLA is launching a new medical scholarship just for space travelers.

(Credit: Dr. Haig Aintablian/UCLA/Getty Images)

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The space medicine fellowship, which will train surgeons to treat people in space, is the first of its kind in the country. The two-year program will train its fellows with NASA and rotate them between SpaceX and JPL.

The program’s first fellow is Dr. Haig Aintablian, who recently completed his emergency medicine residency at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. He says his fascination with space was sparked by a difficult glimpse of Saturn’s rings as a child. And even before he was selected for the Space Medicine Fellowship, Aintablian was into astrophotography and rotated with NASA while in medical school.

“It’s so cool to be able to take two of my biggest passions, space and medicine, and merge them into one. I didn’t really expect this to happen or anything. exists,” Aintablian said.

Program training includes personalized engineering courses for doctors, a mission in Utah that mimics the conditions and health risks space travelers would face on the surface of Mars, and weather in a polar environment isolated with limited resources to get first-hand knowledge of how the body reacts to such terrain. Fellows will continue to work as emergency physicians at UCLA to keep their skills current, Aintablian said.

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“God forbid anyone has appendicitis on Mars,” Aintablian said. “You can’t just send them back to have it repaired at a hospital.”

Studies of twins who went to space have already shown researchers that the human body changes – the heart pumps differently without gravity, bone and muscle mass decrease, and there is an increased risk of radiation exposure in the body. ‘space.

“Amazing how many things can change in the human body when you go to space,” Aintablian said.

The goal of the new program is to train doctors to become full-fledged flight surgeons, and also to give researchers an idea of ​​what the human body has to take into account in a radically different environment from Earth.

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“A lot of new research needs to be done to figure out what we’re doing to make sure that we can one day be a multiplanetary species, where people could survive in a place like Mars,” he said.

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