President’s Annual Letter

SMA Nov2017 Presidents Annual Letter (91.0 KiB)

Space Medicine Association
Current Executive Officers:

Joseph Dervay, M.D. – President
Judith Hayes – President-Elect
Yael Barr – Secretary
Tina Bayuse, Pharm.D. – Treasurer
John Charles, Ph.D., MD – Immediate Past President


SMA continues to have strong membership: 247 active members and 4 honorary members, including 2 added this year: Dr. Charles Berry and Ms. Janice Dudley. Annual dues remain at $20, or $5 for students. A three-year membership is $50. A Lifetime membership is $250, but for retirees an Emeritus membership is $25. Honorary memberships (equivalent to Lifetime memberships) are bestowed on the initiative and with the approval of the ExCom. As always, ExCom welcomes suggestions for more membership engagement.

The SMA annual business meeting was held on May 6, 2018, at 89th AsMA Annual Scientific Meeting,
Hilton Anatole, Dallas TX.

Items of Interest

1. SMA ExCom undertook major initiatives this year:
a. Update the Operations Manual. Dr. Kathryn Hughes (MAL) reviewed it, identified areas needing improvement, and worked it through ExCom. It is now at the SMA website for general reference.
b. Establish the SMA as ASMA’s go-to source for information and responses to press inquiries relating to space medicine related to research topics, such as NASA’s recent Twins investigations and the year-long ISS expedition. We responded quickly and thoroughly to the single inquiry received this year. ExCom will be asking for volunteers for a “phone tree” for future opportunities.
c. Improvement of the SMA website. A subcommittee was established to assist Dr. Mark Campbell with this on-going effort.
d. Developed an up-to-date “This is SMA” poster for display at annual meeting, and displayed it in Dallas.
e. Explored how to capitalize on its status as an active Research and Education Member of the Commercial Space Federation. More needs to be done in this area.
f. Opted to enroll SMA in the auto dues payment option offered by ASMA, for the convenience of membership. This is on hold pending resolution of some technical issues by ASMA.

2. SMA continues its focus on promoting education in space medicine, and encouraging development of early career professionals.
a. Young Investigator Award – since 1976 – $1,000
b. Jeffrey Davis Scholarship – since 2009 – $1,000
c. Journal Award – since 2009
d. KBRWyle Scholarship – since 2010 – $500
e. Jeffrey Sutton Award – since 2015

To date, awards and scholarships to students have totaled ~$31,000. Many thanks to our sponsors and members for making this happen!

3. Mindful of the major role of its founding members in aerospace history, the SMA is also determined to ensure that the relevant records of space medicine pioneers such as Dr. Charles Berry and Dr. William Thornton are not only archived but accessible to researchers. A subcommittee of the ExCom evaluated several candidate locations for our historical archives, including the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas Tech in Lubbock, and Wright State University. We decided to keep our archives at Wright State as did ASMA.

4. In addition, SMA continues to assist the ASMA History and Archives Committee to acquire oral histories of aerospace medicince pioneers through the Rienartz Memorial Lecture Series. Nearly 30 interviews of such pioneers, often by other pioneers, are available at ASMA and SMA presentations are also available through the SMA page by more recent space medicine icons Story Musgrave, M.D. (, and Michael Barratt, M.D. (

5. The guest speaker at our 2018 luncheon in Dallas was Dr. David Wolf, renowned astronaut, flight surgeon, engineer and inventor. He briefly reviewed his multifaceted career and kept the luncheon audience enthralled when he described his first spacewalk about the Russian space station Mir, which stretched the life support systems of he and his cosmonaut colleague literally to their limits as they struggled to overcome equipment failures and re-enter the space station.

SMA Goals

The Space Medicine Branch was founded in 1951 as the first constituent organization of the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA). In 2006, the organization changed its name to the Space Medicine Association (SMA). The association was founded for the express purpose of advancing the science and art of space medicine and the biological sciences, with special emphasis on the problems facing humans in the space environment.

The SMA accomplishes these goals by:
• Stimulating investigation and study,
• Disseminating pertinent knowledge and information,
• Establishing and maintaining cooperation between the biological and other sciences concerned with space medicine.

The SMA’s webpage is:

In Conclusion

The Space Medicine Association remains in excellent shape financially, with income adequate to cover all expenses. Return on our investment in the ASMA Foundation is adequate for our scholarships and awards.

The just-concluded year has been successful and productive, and we another successful year of increasing the involvement of SMA members within the Aerospace Medical Association.

John B. Charles, Ph.D.
President, Space Medicine Association (2017-2018)

The History of Space Medicine and the Birth of our Organization:

Following World War II, continued V-2 rocket research in the U.S. led many scientists to discuss the feasibility of human space travel. Gen. Harry Armstrong, M.D. organized a symposium at Randolph AFB on November 12, 1948 entitled “Aeromedical Problems of Space Flight” that featured presentations by Dr. Hubertus Strughold and an astrophysicist, Dr. Heinz Haber. Most professionals were highly skeptical of the subject and the presenters were considered as eccentrics for many years. This was followed up by a symposium on May 3, 1950, called the “Biological Aspects of Manned Space Flight” at the University of Chicago. Because of substantial interest, the presentations were collected and published as a book, “Space Medicine”, edited by Dr. Marbarger.
This led a small group of members of the Aero Medical Association (AMA) to explore the possibilities of establishing a professional organization dedicated to space medicine. After much debate in the Executive Committee the first constituent organization of the AMA was approved and the first meeting of the Space Medicine Branch was held on May 17, 1951. There were twenty founding members at this first meeting. Dr. Paul Campbell was elected President, Dr. Marbarger was elected President-Elect, and Dr. Strughold was elected Secretary.

Over the next several years, the organization grew steadily. This was probably due to the promotion of the field of space medicine and space travel in Colliers magazine (1952), by a Walt Disney TV special (1955) and by a dedicated article on space medicine in National Geographic in 1955. After the October 1957 launch of Sputnik, interest in space medicine exploded, resulting in an immediate expansion of membership, meeting attendance, presentations at the plenary sessions, and articles in the journal. In 1964, 1965, and 1966, Dr. Charles Berry chaired heavily attended sessions covering medical care during the Gemini Program at the Aerospace Medical Association (note the name change of the parent organization that was made in 1958) annual meeting. Under Dr. Berry’s leadership as the President of the organization in 1964, the organization continued to grow and receive international recognition. Enthusiasm for space medicine and the Space Medicine Branch continued at a high level for over 15 years and then leveled off as did the U.S space program in the 1970’s. However, membership and meeting attendance has never declined due to the continuation of the space program with the Shuttle missions, the biomedical research being carried on with the International Space Station and now the evolution of commercial human spaceflight.

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