Submission from Dr Robert Marchbanks,
Managing Director, Marchbanks Measurement Systems Ltd
1. I am the MD of a UK company that is being
funded by NASA Johnson Center to develop medical equipment for
human space exploration. The equipment is one of the UK's Millennium
Products, and is used to measure brain pressure without the need
for surgery. NASA's modest investment has resulted in technology
with immediate and significant application in Earth-based healthcare,
military and commercial medical usage.
2. Without doubt, non-invasive measurement
of brain pressure is central to human space flight and Earth-based
medicine. I believe its usage in neurology will be as commonplace
as ECG measurements are in cardiology today. With this knowledge,
I made a number of approaches to the European Space Agency (ESA),
however, the answer was always the samethe UK does not
support human space exploration projects. I was encouraged to
initiate a project with other ESA members; however, because I
am UK-based I would not receive funding, although the other partners
3. The benefits of investing in medical
technology for human space flight are:
(a) Almost immediate applicability to Earth-based
medicine and, therefore, value for money in terms of commercial
spin-out and wealth generation.
(b) An almost identical level of Space and
Earth design and quality control, with resulting documentation
that meets European CE Mark and FDA registration requirementsimportant
to European companies in providing accelerated entry to the US
(c) International collaboration with resulting
knowledge transfer and skill generation in key areas of technology,
medicine and quality control.
(d) Innovative and robust solutions to everyday
4. Through the support of NASA, we now have
reconfigurable telemedicine equipment that is expected to deliver
public and commercial benefits in areas such as:
(a) Hospital-based medicine including paediatric
and adult intensive care.
(b) Telemedicine for remote healthcare applications,
such as possibly in the Scottish Islands.
(c) Commercial applications of telemedicine,
such as with oil exploration.
(d) Support of the armed forces in terms
of front-line telemedicine and home-based neurological/audiological
(e) US Home-State Security applications,
such as for natural, accidental or contingency terrorist related
(f) In conclusion, for a modest investment,
NASA is a stakeholder in cutting-edge health technology and has
created a "win-win" opportunity for Space and Earth-based
medicine. A close synergy exists between these two applications
in terms of design control and documentation. This synergy facilitates
skill transfer and rapid entry routes to US and major Worldwide
health device markets.