Dr. Bailey is a Professor and Radiation Cancer Biologist in the Department of Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences (ERHS). Part of her current research program includes being one of 10 investigations selected by NASA for the TWINS Study, an integrated effort to launch human space life science research into a new era of molecular or "omics" based studies. As part of the one year mission aboard the International Space Station, identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, are the subjects of this unique research opportunity. The overall goal of the TWINS Study is to identify space-flight specific factors that influence human health, important considerations as we spend longer and longer periods of time, deeper and deeper into space, making our way to Mars.
Bailey and her team are assessing changes in telomere length and telomerase activity in the space- and earth-bound twins, as well as in a cohort of unrelated astronauts, which includes CSU alum Dr. Kjell Lindgren. She proposes that telomere maintenance represents not only a key indicator of general health, but also a particularly relevant biomarker of aging and age-related degenerative diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease and cancer), as it reflects the combined experiences (e.g., nutritional, psychological, and physical stresses) and environmental exposures (e.g., UV and ionizing radiations) encountered during spaceflight. Studies also include evaluating chromosome aberrations as specific biomarkers of radiation exposure. Taken together with the other TWINS Study investigations, results will facilitate identification of interactive effects and relationships that will suggest potential mitigation strategies for future study, as well as benefit precision medicine efforts in monitoring health and assessing disease risk not only of astronauts, but for those on earth as well.