Investigating the Role of Stem Cells in Spaceflight Telomere Elongation
Up in space, astronauts experience physiological changes reminiscent of aging such as muscle atrophy, loss of bone density, and stiffened arteries. However, they have been found to develop “longer” cellular telomeres at the same time. Because longer telomeres are linked to youth, this suggests that spaceflight could paradoxically be the cellular “fountain of youth” for astronauts. Our speaker will discuss this perplexing phenomenon and also dive into an active research proposal that will investigate whether the process is linked to stem cells.
About our speaker: Pristine Onuoha is a 17 year-old senior at East Chapel Hill High School who loves learning about how life works and real world applications of those questions. Pristine was named the 2022 Winner of the Genes in Space Competition for her space biology research proposal. As a result, Pristine will be working with scientists to develop this proposal for actual implementation aboard the International Space Station in 2023!