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Meet a Space Scientist: Dr. Jaap Swanenburg

We have interviewed Dr. Jaap Swanenburg, who works in the Integrative Spinal Research (ISR) group, the research arm of the department of Chiropractic Medicine at Balgrist University Hospital. Their research focuses on the human spinal motor control under different gravity conditions with the aim of improving spinal health, let's discover more!

Dr. Jaap Swanenburg

What is the main area of your research?

We are focused on the human spinal motor control under different gravity conditions with the aim of improving spinal health. Astronauts experience various changes / adaptations of their body in weightlessness during space missions. These changes have effects on their health, e.g. low back pain. More than half of the astronauts suffer from back pain, but till today the exact cause for this is unknown.

What brought you to the Space sector?

The ISR Group at the Balgrist University Hospital deals with the problem of back pain. The daily changing loads on the spine play an important role in this context. In order to better understand the influence of these everyday strains on the spine, experiments in extreme conditions are helpful to better identify possible causes. With the UZH parabolic flights we had the possibility to simulate exactly these extreme conditions here in Zurich. We started with 2016 with 2nd Swiss PFC and last year we participated in 71st esa PFC.

What do you like most about Space?

Space exploration as common goal of so many different fields of research, space exploration itself, because exploration is in our genes.

What would be the greatest achievement in the Space Sector?

So many in so many different fields, it is difficult to pick one!

You are part of the UZH Space Hub: how will this benefit your research?

We benefit enormous of being part of the UZH Space Hub. Not only the possibility to get access to e.g. microgravity research platforms but also of having an active exchange between the different field of research. Moreover, our research is visible to a broader public.

ISR group

UZH Space Hub