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15th Forum:

Investing in Space - Next Frontier of Healthcare


March 16, 2021

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Held virtually due to COVID-19


12:00-1:00 PM   Session

                           "Investing in Space - Next Frontier of Healthcare"


Our 15th New York Health Forum will bring together key speakers, life sciences executives, and government officials to discuss advances in technology and new areas of drug development focused on space travel. The health and well-being of space crews

is the primary factor that limits the achievement of long-duration space missions. Therefore, human health is the key area of interest for space agencies around the world, as they plan the next steps in space exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

Which companies are developing new therapies for space exploration? Will the public sector’s rising interest in space investment designate it as the next major industry? Higher levels of private funding, advances in technology, increasing government funding,

and growing public sector’s interest are accelerating the development of new companies focused on space exploration.

  • Kimberly Ha, CEO & Founder, KKH Advisors, Editorial Board Member, World Asian Medical Journal (Moderator)

  • Cheryl A. Nickerson, PhD, Professor, Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University

  • Mark Ott, MBA, PhD, Microbiology Laboratory Lead, Johnson Space Center, NASA

  • Ji Sun Park, PhD, Project Manager & Senior Scientist, Enzychem Lifesciences 

Key Discussion Items:​

  • Due to a lack of gravity, Space creates a unique environment to do various research. Space research allows us to utilize the information collected on space crew health and apply it to conditions on Earth. We now have an opportunity to make unique discoveries in all biological systems by using underlying mechanisms learned in space flight and translating them into a wide variety of applications on Earth.

  • Unlike the past, there is now a commercialization aspect in space—human space flight is not only the government’s business anymore. Not only NASA, but private organizations or billionaire investors are now developing human flight research programs. Thus, Space research has become a partnership between commercial and government groups.

  • Currently, Dr. Nickerson at Arizona State University is working on mitigating infectious disease through space research because space flight can alter the virulence (disease-causing potential) of a microbial pathogen. Also, working without gravity, such as transferring hazardous chemicals/biologicals, is a challenge but NASA has adapted new processes to conduct more and more experiments.

  • Enzychem Lifesciences has received a grant from NASA and is conducting a proof-of-concept study with Arizona State University to discover EC-18’s potential to serve as a novel health treatment for astronaut health. It could potentially function as a radiation countermeasure to protect astronauts from radiation and pathogen-induced tissue damage and inflammation, which are conditions often seen in space.

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Moderator: Kimberly Ha

CEO & Founder, KKH Advisors, Editorial Board Member, World Asian Medical Journal 

Kimberly Ha is the founder and CEO of KKH Advisors, a life sciences strategic communications advisory firm. She was previously Senior Director at FTI Consulting, Healthcare Capital Markets Communications, where she advised a broad range of clients from Fortune 500 to early-stage development companies on business transformation, corporate and executive positioning, crisis and issues management, and financial communications. She is a digital health advisor at UCSF Health Hub, Springboard Enterprises, and a Limited Partner at Array Ventures, a SF-based tech VC fund.

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Cheryl A. Nickerson, PhD

Professor, Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics, The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University 


Cheryl A. Nickerson is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences in the Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. Her internationally recognized research takes a highly multidisciplinary and innovative approach that blends microbiology, tissue engineering, and physics to mimic the dynamic interactions between the host, its microenvironment, and microorganisms that lead to infection and disease, and translation of this knowledge to biomedical and biotechnology applications. She also works closely with NASA to determine the effect of spaceflight on microbial gene expression, physiology, and virulence which may negatively impact astronaut health; and microbial biofouling of environmental life support systems of spacecraft which is critical for the integrity and sustainability of human space habitats.  Her research has flown on multiple Space Shuttle missions, SpaceX, and the International Space Station. 

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Mark Ott, MBA, PhD

Microbiology Laboratory Lead, Johnson Space Center, NASA


Mark Ott is the Discipline Lead of the Johnson Space Center Microbiology Laboratory, which is responsible for mitigating infectious disease risk during human spaceflight. His responsibilities include the assessment of microbial risk to astronaut health during spaceflight missions based on vehicle and mission design as well as crew member, food, and environmental monitoring. He has published extensively in the areas of human and microbial responses to spaceflight and the microbial ecology of spacecraft.


Ji Sun Park, PhD

Project Manager & Senior Scientist, Enzychem Lifesciences


Ji Sun Park is a Project Manager and Senior Scientist at Enzychem Lifesciences, a publicly owned biopharmaceutical company from South Korea. She works in both clinical and non-clinical sectors to assist the Phase II clinical studies and to apply for the U.S. government agency-sponsored grants and contracts, respectively. Before joining Enzychem, she had an academic career as a biomedical engineer with a background in cancer therapeutics, biomaterials, and regenerative medicine. She holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, an M.S. from Duke University, and a B.S. from the University of Washington in Seattle.

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