'' Dr. Millie Hughes Fulford '' : 1945 - 2021 : The experiments Dr. Hughes-Fulford conducted on the shuttle were only the start of her years long examination into the effects of weightlessness on the body's immune system and bone mass.

In addition to her work over nine days aboard the Columbia, which carried the Space lab laboratory, she oversaw experiments that on five shuttle flights [four to the Russian space station Mir] and one to the International Space Station] and on a Russian Soyuz and two space X missions [all to the international station].

Fifteen of the 29 Apollo astronauts had infections in space or soon after they returned. In her experiments, Dr. Hughes-Fulford examined how micro-gravity, or weightlessness, caused the suppression of T-cells, the white blood cells that lead the immunological fight against disease.

At the San Francisco VA Medical Center, where she worked for 47 years, she led a team of researchers that discovered that when there is no gravity, certain genes that activate T-cells are greatly inhibited or do not switch on at all.

''There is a specific pathway that is not working in the absence of gravity,'' Dr. Hughes-Fulford was quoted as saying in Science Daily in 2005.

''You're short circuiting a whole lot of the immune response - namely, the ability to proliferate T cells   -which shouldn't be a surprise life evolved in the Earth's gravity field.''

''What we are looking for are new ways to regulate the immune system to help people on Earth,'' she told the Veteran Affairs website.

''It's not just the four people who may go to Mars in 2025 [although it will help them, too]; It's about people on Earth, especially the elderly.''

Dr. Hughes Fulford's outer space experimentation earned her an award from NASA in 2013 for her work on T cells.

She received the honor shortly before the SpaceX launch in April 2014, in which her tests examined the causes of decreased T cell activation in weightlessness.

The World Students Society thanks author Richard Sandomir.


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