Lara Keytel - February 11, 2002: Glow-in-the-dark Mark - It was finally my turn to get into the meetings that Karen had so diligently been attending, so it was off to IMBP, or the Institute for Biomedical Problems, where I was to meet Boris Morukov, the cosmonaut/doctor involved with medical research on board the ISS. We had first met in December, when we had presented our protocols to the Russians. This was a "show me the money" meeting in which I was to pick up equipment so that I could start my tests on Mark for the first part of the study.
My study is to be conducted in two parts, a ground-based study on Earth and an in-flight study in space. Both times I will be measuring Mark's energy expenditure, using both the Doubly Labelled Water Technique (DLW) and the Heart Rate Monitoring (HRM) technique. The DLW technique is the gold standard and I am trying to validate the HRM technique in space, where it has not been previously validated.
I spent last week in the Netherlands purchasing the DLW from the University of Maastricht, Limburg, from Professor Klaas Westerterp, who is one of the world leaders in this technique. I also managed to spend some time with Loek Wouters, the person who does the mass spectrometer analysis (say that in your sleep!) of the DLW samples.
But I digress. Monday was D-Day - or Doubly Labelled Water Day - for Mark. Finally, the time had come when he could no longer escape the skinfold calliper. It was time for body composition analysis and DLW dosing. Back at IBMP, they did show me the money, and I walked out of the meeting with saliva swab kits, ready to start studies on Mark.
Back at Prophy 1, it was first time for body composition. After dinner, it was time to get the baseline samples of Mark's saliva by having him chew on three dried dental swabs. This is so that we know what Mark’s naturally occuring DLW levels are; we all have background levels.
I have managed to recruit one of Mark's fellow cosmonauts to act as the control. Every time I get saliva samples from Mark, I get from the control subject as well, just so that I know what the background levels are. The cosmonaut in question is a great subject as he has been living here for the same amount of time as Mark.
After dinner, all that remained was that Mark swallow the water that would make him glow in the dark. Karen and I were really interested to know what it tasted like. To our dissapointment it tasted like water, and although Mark took on a luminous quality, we could only put it down to his personality!
After consuming the dose, the bottle was washed out and refilled with water that was again consumed, just to make sure Mark got all the isotope. So the study has begun. After that it was to bed for all, more samples in the morning.