Southcoast’s Dr. Peter Lee Teams Up with NASA, Johns Hopkins for International Space Station Mission

Dr. Lee

Following NASA’s successful launch of SpaceX 27 on Tuesday night, an essential cargo delivery is on its way to the seven crew members of the International Space Station.

With the arrival of these several metric tons of supplies on Thursday, scheduled for 7:52am EDT, the crew will find consumables and equipment, but they’ll also receive the components of multiple experiments – including engineered human heart tissue and FDA-approved medicines intended to prevent cardiac cell changes that can occur during long-duration spaceflights. 

Southcoast Health Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Brown University Professor Peter H.U. Lee, MD, PhD, MPH, FACS, FACC, is an investigator on this experiment who has worked with the Johns Hopkins-led team for more than five years. Their last experiment took place in 2020. 

“Research with these beating 3D engineered heart tissues allow us to study the effects of spaceflight on the heart in a culture dish, thereby reducing the reliance on animal studies,” Dr. Lee said. “As a cardiac surgeon, I am hopeful that these studies will also help address heart disease for patients on Earth.”

The current experiment, the fourth International Space Station mission in which Dr. Lee has participated, is meant to measure changes to the engineered heart tissues, including gene expression, heart rate and rhythm, muscle fiber size, and mitochondrial function, while astronauts will also be testing different medicines to prevent these changes.