The BR&C Program is divided into 4 research elements. The goal of each element is to conduct research that will lead to the development and ultimate use of countermeasures to the harmful effects of space flight.
BR&C Physiology research investigates and characterizes the effects of space flight and exposure to microgravity (e.g., workload, isolation, sleep loss, decreased physical activity, fluid shifts, etc.) on physiological function (musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, endocrine, etc.). These activities expand understanding of human physiology and performance while enhancing biomedical capabilities to benefit life on Earth.
Behavior and Performance
The Behavior and Performance element supports experiments designed to understand the mechanisms by which microgravity, confinement, cumulative sleep loss, mission design and events, spacecraft environment, and noise and light affect the behavior and performance of crews and dependent support. It also addresses psychosocial, gender, and cross-cultural aspects of human missions in space.
Environmental Health Research
Research within the Environmental Health element includes three interrelated disciplines, each dealing with a specific aspect of the spacecraft environment - Barophysiology, Microbiology, and Toxicology. The Environmental Health element has established the following goals: (1) to understand the effects of the spacecraft environments on humans and other organisms; (2) to develop standards and countermeasures, where necessary, to optimize crew health, safety, and productivity.
Clinical Research in Support of Space Missions
As humanity considers missions well beyond Earth orbit, patient stabilization and evacuation is impossible. Time delays for radio communication and exceptionally long Earth return times demand that emergency medical care, as well as routine care, be carried out by a small crew of non-medical professionals at the site. This will lead to greater reliance on intelligent support systems to instruct the human operators in medical care. In weightlessness the standard medical and surgical techniques routinely employed here on Earth will be much more complicated and in their present form are likely to be inadequate during long duration flight. BR&C plans to use the ISS as a platform for exploring and implementing advanced medical care and virtual environment technologies for medical and surgical care.