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SMA Awards

September 28, 2021

SMA Awards

The Space Medicine Association (SMA) held its luncheon and business meeting on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, during AsMA’s 91st Annual Scientific Meeting at the Sheraton Downtown Denver, Denver, CO. Award winners are pictured below.

Lifetime Achievement Award

John B. Charles, Ph.D.John B. Charles, Ph.D., was honored with the SMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is Chief Scientist of NASA’s Human Research Program. Previously he was the Human Research Program’s Associate Manager for International Science and led NASA’s space life sciences planning for the joint U.S./Russian 1-year mission on the International Space Station and the Twins Study. He earned his B.S. in biophysics at Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics at the University of Kentucky. He joined Johnson Space Center in 1983 as a postdoctoral fellow and became a civil servant in 1985. He is co-developer of the Shuttle-era fluid-loading countermeasure and investigated the cardiovascular effects of spaceflight using ultrasound, re-entry data recording, and in-flight lower body negative pressure on Space Shuttle astronauts and on crewmembers of the Russian space station Mir. He coordinated all NASA-sponsored biomedical, biological,and microgravity science investigations as Mission Scientist for American astronaut missions on Mir, on STS-95, John Glenn’s Shuttle flight, and on STS-107, Colum bia’s last mission in January 2003.He is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) and has been a member since 1983. He is also a full member of the Inter national Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and co-chaired the 18th IAA “Humans in Space” Symposium in 2011. His other awards include the National Space Club and Foun dation Eagle Manned Mission Award, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Joe Kerwin Award from AsMA, SMA’s Hubertus Strughold Award, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

Scientific Achievement Award

Dr. Levine, center, accepts the award from Jeffrey Sutton, the award sponsor on the left, and Judith Hayes, Past President of SMA (2019-2020) on the right.
Dr. Levine, center, accepts the award from Jeffrey Sutton, the award sponsor on the left, and Judith Hayes, Past President of SMA (2019-2020) on the right.
Benjamin D. Levine, M.D., FACC, FAHA, FACSM, received the SMA’s Jeffrey P. Sutton Scientific Achievement Award. He is Professor of Medicine and Cardiology at UT Southwestern, where he holds a Distinguished Professorship in Exercise Science. As a clinical cardiologist and expert in space physiology, Ben has been a valuable resource to NASA in evaluating and managing cardiovascular problems in astronauts. He has also mentored countless students and has held substantial scientific leadership roles, serving as a project manager for Neurolab, Team Leader for NSBRI, and member of the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey. As a young physician-scientist, he placed the first invasive central venous pressure catheters in astronauts, demonstrating the remarkable finding that central venous pressure decreases rather than increases in space, as had been previously thought. Ben defined the concept of cardiac atrophy as it applies to bedrest and spaceflight, and he identified specific interventions to prevent it. He led an ambitious series of experiments in the Shuttle era, showing that sympathetic nerve activity is increased rather than decreased in space. His findings refocused the scientific community away from abnormal cardiovascular reflexes as the cause of spaceflight induced orthostatic intolerance, and towards the mechanisms of reduced stroke volume. Importantly, Ben and his team showed for the first time in long-duration spaceflight that adequate exercise aboard the ISS could prevent cardiac atrophy and orthostatic intolerance. He has many other scientific accomplishments to his name, including pivotal findings regarding invasive measurements of intracranial pressure in volunteers during parabolic flight, and his contributions to understanding spaceflight associated neuro-ocular syndrome and potential countermeasures.

President's Award

Richard Jennings, right, accepts the award from Charles Mathers, Past President of SMA (2020-2021).
Richard T. Jennings, M.D., was given the SMA President’s Award. He is a nonresident fellow in the Baker Institute Space Policy Program and a clinical professor in space medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). He also serves as a flight surgeon for Space Adventures. He worked as a NASA flight surgeon from 1987 to 1995 and was chief of the Flight Medicine Clinic and chief of medical operations for the space shuttle. He served as crew surgeon or deputy crew surgeon for 14 shuttle missions and provided direct mission support for 45 shuttle flights. He also provided medical care in flight medicine at Johnson Space Center for 25 years. In 1995, he joined the faculty at UTMB and served as director for its aerospace medicine residency program. At UTMB, he supervised the physicians that support NASA in operations and advanced projects at the Johnson Space Center and the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. As lead flight surgeon for Space Adventures, he has supported five Soyuz missions to the International Space Station. Jennings is a member of the Safety Advisory Panel for SpaceX and he serves as a medical consultant for Virgin Galactic. He is a previous president of the Aerospace Medical Association and currently serves on the board of the Aerospace Medical Association Foundation. Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma University College of Medicine, and Wright State University.

Past Presidents' Awards

Judith Hayes, left, President of SMA from 2019-2020, accepts the Past President award in appreciation of her service from Charles Mathers, right, who was President from 2020-2021. Charles Mathers, right, President of SMA from 2020-2021, accepts the Past President award in appreciation of his service from Casey Pruett, current President of SMA, left.