Review Article


, 9:0

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Personalized medicine in human space flight: using Omics based analyses to develop individualized countermeasures that enhance astronaut safety and performance

  • Michael A. SchmidtAffiliated withAdvanced Pattern Analysis & Countermeasures Group, MetaboLogics. LLC, Infectious Disease Research Complex, Colorado State University Email author 
  • , Thomas J. GoodwinAffiliated withNASA Johnson Space Center, Disease Modeling and Tissue Analogues Laboratory, Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences Division


Space flight is one of the most extreme conditions encountered by humans. Advances in Omics methodologies (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) have revealed that unique differences exist between individuals. These differences can be amplified in extreme conditions, such as space flight. A better understanding of individual differences may allow us to develop personalized countermeasure packages that optimize the safety and performance of each astronaut. In this review, we explore the role of “Omics” in advancing our ability to: (1) more thoroughly describe the biological response of humans in space; (2) describe molecular attributes of individual astronauts that alter the risk profile prior to entering the space environment; (3) deploy Omics techniques in the development of personalized countermeasures; and (4) develop a comprehensive Omics-based assessment and countermeasure platform that will guide human space flight in the future. In this review, we advance the concept of personalized medicine in human space flight, with the goal of enhancing astronaut safety and performance. Because the field is vast, we explore selected examples where biochemical individuality might significantly impact countermeasure development. These include gene and small molecule variants associated with: (1) metabolism of therapeutic drugs used in space; (2) one carbon metabolism and DNA stability; (3) iron metabolism, oxidative stress and damage, and DNA stability; and (4) essential input (Mg and Zn) effects on DNA repair. From these examples, we advance the case that widespread Omics profiling should serve as the foundation for aerospace medicine and research, explore methodological considerations to advance the field, and suggest why personalized medicine may become the standard of care for humans in space.


Omics Genomics Proteomics Transcriptomics Metabolomics Personalized medicine Space flight Human Astronaut health Exploration Systems biology Single nucleotide polymorphism Oxidative stress Human performance Essential inputs Micronutrient DNA stability DNA repair