Dr Joan Vernikos was one of the first five scientists recruited by NASA in 1964 for her expertise in Stress and went on to become NASA’s Director of Life Science in 1993, a position she held for more than 10 years.
A pharmacologist from the University of London, she is a pioneer in how living in the microgravity of space adversely affects the health of astronauts. Her ground simulation research led her to propose the Gravity Deprivation Syndrome: This posits that Gravity is the common link in the relationship between the microgravity of space, bed rest simulation of the effects of microgravity, the hazards of extended, uninterrupted, occupational sitting and the reduced use of gravity on Earth as we age.
Joan is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and has received numerous awards for her work on the relationship of space research in understanding ageing, including the Boynton of the Bioastronautics Society, the Strughold of the Aerospace Medical Association, a Lifetime Award of Women in Aerospace and the prestigious International Astronautical Federation’s Allan D. Emil award. In October 2018 at the 69th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Dr Vernikos was inducted into the International Astronautical Federation Hall of Fame, in recognition of her substantial contribution to the progress of space science, technology, and space benefits to mankind. Joan is a public speaker on the benefits to mankind gained from space research and technology. She designed a proposed on-board human-powered centrifuge for interplanetary travel and introduced the concept of gravity on Earth as a therapeutic agent. Joan has published over 200 scientific papers and a series of books to present practical and effective solutions for maintaining good health throughout life and healthy ageing.