Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Physician and Former Astronaut Joins The Methodist Hospital Research Institute

Physician and Former Astronaut Joins The Methodist Hospital Research Institute 

HOUSTON (Feb. 15, 2011) -Physician and former NASA Astronaut Scott Parazynski has been named Chief Medical Officer and Chief Technology Officer of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute.

One of NASA's most experienced spacewalkers, Parazynski spent 16 years as a Mission Specialist Astronaut. His innovations and patent filings include tools for extravehicular activity, spaceflight exercise countermeasures, medical devices and technologies for mountaineering safety and other harsh environments. He flew on five shuttle missions between 1994 and 2007 and has logged more than 1,381 hours in space, including more than 47 hours spacewalking.

"Dr. Parazynski will bring to Methodist a wealth of experience in taking new ideas from conception through trials to final execution," said Dr. Mauro Ferrari, President and CEO of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston. "He will help catalyze innovation at the Research Institute with his unique background, combining medicine and technology to solve high-stakes challenges."

Parazynski comes to Methodist with an extensive history of innovation in challenging, extreme environments. With NASA, his expertise helped pave the way to successful assembly of the International Space Station.

"Scott Parazynski is one of the most capable and driven individuals I've had the pleasure of working with while serving at NASA," said Kent Rominger, former Chief of the Astronaut Office and Commander of the STS-100 Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station with Parazynski. "His innovative approach to solving complex issues made him invaluable to the space shuttle program."

In his role as Chief Technology Officer, Parazynski will have a broad view across The Methodist Hospital's clinical system to create solutions to clinical needs with new technology or new techniques.

"I plan to meet regularly with clinicians, be in the operating rooms, in the emergency department and in the clinics to help identify ideas for tools and technology that can help provide better, more effective medical care to our patients and patients across the world," Parazynski said. "Clinicians are busy people. I'm here to help them see their good, innovative ideas to fruition."

As Chief Medical Officer, Parazynski will have a parallel role. He will drive technological advancements that benefit patients and support translational research at Methodist. In doing this, he will integrate his knowledge of medicine and technology to streamline an effective process for seeing innovation move successfully from initial concept through design, patient safety testing and regulatory requirements to final product.

"I've been very privileged to know many great people in my life - great scholars and leaders, Nobel Laureates, inventors and entrepreneurs," said Dr. Greg Kovacs, professor of electrical engineering and medicine at Stanford University. "Scott stands out among them as one of the most down-to-Earth and humble, despite his incredible achievements as astronaut, explorer, inventor and physician."

Parazynski received his medical degree from Stanford Medical School. While at Stanford, he was supported by an NIH fellowship in cancer biology and received the NASA Graduate Student Researcher's Award. He completed his medical internship at the Brigham & Women's Hospital of Harvard Medical School. He had completed 22 months of a residency in emergency medicine in Denver when he was selected by NASA in 1992 to join the astronaut corps.

Parazynski is also an accomplished mountain climber, having summited Mount Everest and many other peaks worldwide. Additionally, he was the honorary captain of the U.S. Olympic luge team for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

He has authored numerous publications in the fields of space physiology, aerospace medicine, human adaptation to stressful environments and exobiology (the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe).

He holds several national and international teaching appointments. He is currently a visiting professor of space medicine at the University of Oxford, a consulting professor in the department of medicine at Stanford Medical School, and a clinical assistant professor of aerospace medicine at UTMB-Galveston. He is also chairman of the board of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education non-profit organization, motivating 400,000 school kids each year with simulated space missions.

For more information on The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, see www.tmhri.org. Follow Methodist on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MethodistHosp and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/houstonmethodist.