Professor Joseph Borg from the Department of Applied Biomedical Sciences within the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Malta was interviewed by Davlynne Lidbetter, Managing Director at SPM Publishers International and former General Manager of Forbes Africa (2011-2014). He spoke about his recent project related to biomedical science and space biosciences, 'Project Maleth', taking place this August on board the International Space Station.
Project Maleth is funded by the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and through RIDT by a Maltese Biotech Company - Evolve Ltd.
He elaborates on his current role as a Principal Investigator of Borg Group, leading some of Malta’s ambitious molecular programs, most notably in inherited rare blood disorders of thalassaemia and sickle cell disease.
He then describes the link between blood research and his collaboration with two other Principal Investigators of repute, namely Afshin Beheshti (NASA Ames Research Centre, USA) and Chris E. Mason (Weill Cornell Medicine, USA) who have now teamed up together to further understand the effects of spaceflight on anaemia and blood physiology.
This work continues to build on the already established lines of research by his group on experimental haematology and control of erythropoiesis following the path of his predecessors Professors Alex Felice and Christian Scerri.
The last part of the interview is dedicated to the molecular biology and genetics project dealing with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients and skin microbiome samples destined for microgravity research on board an upcoming SpaceX CRS-23 mission leaving from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA before the end of August. The mission is expected to last around 45 to 50 days in low earth orbit (LEO) and return back to Earth for further work.
The biocube for this mission was built by Space Applications Services, on an ICE CUBES platform that sees commercial access to the space station more affordable and feasible. Ms Christine Gatt is currently reading for her Doctoral Degree at the University of Malta on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Diabetic Foot Ulcer research and will see parts of her work destined to research in microgravity under Professor Borg’s supervision with the collaboration and co-supervision of Dr Graziella Zahra as well as partners from Mater Dei Hospital, Professor Kevin Cassar and his team.
Browse through the magazines online.