Kevin E. Forkheim - SSP96

SSPAtKSCOsteoporosis and Embryo Development in Space

I was a very fortunate candidate who was sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to attend the International Space University Summer Space Program (ISU-SSP) in 1996.

This experience was the start of an incredible journey that allowed me to deepen my knowledge in the area of Medicine, broaden my interest and experience in the domain of medical research, and develop personal skills which have allowed me to partake in international research projects that permitted me to help improve the health of Canadians.

In 1996, I was a second year medical student at the University of Manitoba , who had also just completed a Masters in Computer Science, specializing in Artificial Intelligence in Medicine. Through the generous support of CIHR, I was allowed to attend the ISU-SSP to work with an international team developing a medical system that could be used to treat and prevent medical problems in space. I had the opportunity to apply all of the Computer Science knowledge that I had attained regarding computer diagnosis and telemedicine, integrating it into the project.

Working with 50 international experts in different disciplines was challenging, as we did not always agree on everything. This project taught me how to diplomatically and efficiently work in a large, multidisciplinary, and culturally diverse team, a skill that I use every day in my medical practice.

While at the ISU-SSP, I also had the opportunity to learn about space medicine and some of the obstacles that must be overcome in microgravity. Myself, and an ISU-SSP colleague from Israel , Dr. Eran Schenker, became very interested in Osteoporosis and Embryo development. We submitted two research proposals
that were later flown on the Space Shuttle in 1996. This was the first collaboration between Canada and Israel in space. Both Eran and I were the leaders of the research team, where we used many of the skills taught to us at ISU-SSP to undertake our experiments.

I am currently completing my final year of a combined Radiology/Nuclear Medicine Residency program at the University of British Columbia . I feel that the benefits that I have derived from attending the ISU-SSP are extremely valuable to my medical career and that my patients benefit directly from my experiences.