The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases

 Philip P. Foster, M.D., Ph.D.,

Philip P. Foster, M.D., Ph.D.,

Assistant Professor, Center for Proteomics and Systems Biology

(713) 486-5423

Innovative Approach of the Biology of Oxygen(Space-Microgravity, Cognition, NanoMedicine, Nucleic Acids, Neural & Cancer Stem Cells).


Space walk STS-116

Network modelsOne of our extraordinary scientific achievements from basic research to innovative Human application was the success in hand-made assembly of the International Space Station in the most hostile environment that man ever had to face (spatial void, absence of gravity, extreme temperatures). During the preparation (O2 prebreathe) for extra-vehicular activities (EVAs), the decompression from Sea-level pressure to its third may lead to the presence of bona fide nano-, micronuclei of gases or microbubbles in blood, brain or other tissues forming and growing in situ by cavitation or tribonucleation. This extensive collaborative effort between NASA and several North American Institutions led to products and procedures that were delivered to NASA such as the decrease from 24-72 hrs EVA preparation down to two hrs. Members of the team received several awards from NASA for those achievements. Non-invasive near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) allowed observation of instantaneous variations of total, oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin/myoglobin concentrations in microcirculatory networks of active limbs during the dynamic exercise that was used to for the successful two-hr O2-prebreathe. Our conclusion was that besides N2 tissue washout another unknown exercise-induced effect may have further enhanced the protection possibly mediated via the anti -inflammatory effect of exercise, gas micronuclei reduction, NO pathways or other molecular mechanisms. Experience of microbubbles also leads to other applications.

Spread of lesions and myelinationNanoMedicine, in a non-detrimental way, uses encapsulated gas microbubbles as drug-loaded liposomes to target tissues (tumors, …); cavitation-induced of encapsulated microbubbles has an effect on drug release. New challenges will be to study the role of gases (O2, CO2) potentially generating stress on neuronal oxygen consumption (effects on cerebral circulation and vigilance), using functional MRI (fMRI), fNIRS, evaluate the individual susceptibility gene variants to anxiety and Characterize some molecular mechanisms that regulate O2-induced neurogenesis and their applications in neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s). We are also looking at cerebral CO2 levels and their influence on the relationship to cerebral-ophthalmic circulation by observing the on the cerebral hemodynamic response function using custom-made breathing systems, NIR scanning, and ophthalmic artery-transcranial Doppler. Another challenge is to determine specific X-aptamers specifically targeting cancer cells (ependymoma and lung cancer) with the goal to design specific treatments. An extension of the previous goal is also to study the O2-dependent molecular mechanisms and other physical variables that regulate cancer cells such as the effects of hypoxia on tumorigenic cells.


1). Spatial Environment (Basic & Operational Research)

2) Therapeutic targets for ependymoma and lung cancer

3). Cognitive Plasticity



  • Foster PP. Role of physical and mental training in brain network configuration. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015.
  • Foster PP. Mild traumatic brain injury early in life and reduced neural activity for memory processing later in midlife. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015.
  • Brobey R., …, Foster PP, Makoto Kuro-o, and Rosenblatt, K.P. Klotho regulates 14-3-3zeta monomerizing and binding to ASK1 signaling complex in response to oxidative stress. PlosOne. 2015.
  • Brobey R., …, Foster PP, Makoto Kuro-o, and Rosenblatt, K.P. Klotho protects dopaminergic neurons in vivo via ASK1 and p38 MAPK signaling pathways. PlosOne. 2015.

Dr. Foster’s (nonprofit) Foundation is at


  • Foster PP. “How does dancing promote brain reconditioning in the elderly? Front. Ag. Neurosci., doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2013.00004. Epub 2013 Feb 26. 
  • Foster PP. The "brain-skin connection" in protein misfolding and amyloid deposits: embryological, pathophysiological, and therapeutic common grounds? Front Neurol 3: 56, 2012. 
  • Foster PP, Pollock NW, Conkin J, Dervay JP, Caillot N, Chhikara RJ, Vann RD, Butler BD, and Gernhardt ML. Protective Mechanisms in Hypobaric Decompression. Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 84:3, 212-25, 2013. 
  • Jørgensen A, Foster PP, Wisløff U, Paulsen G, Havnes MB, Eftedal I, and Brubakk AO. Eccentric exercise-induced myofibrillar disruption with sarcolemmal integrity prior to delayed diving has no effect on vascular bubble formation in rats, Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 2012. 
  • Foster PP, Rosenblatt KP, Kuljiš RO. Exercise-induced cognitive plasticity, implications for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Front Neurol 2: 28, 2011. 
  • Foster PP, Butler BD: Decompression to altitude: assumptions, experimental evidence, and future directions. Highlighted Topic-Invited Review. J Appl Physiol 106: 678-690, 2009. 
  • Cantais E, Louge P, Suppini A, Foster PP, Palmier B. Right-to-left shunt and risk of decompression illness with cochleo-vestibular and cerebral symptoms in divers: case control study in 101 consecutive dive accidents. Crit. Care Med. 31(1):84-8, 2003. 
  • Foster PP, Boriek AM, Butler BD, Gernhardt ML, Bové AA: Patent foramen ovale and paradoxical systemic embolism: a bibliographic review. Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 74(6, Suppl.):B1-B64, 2003. 
  • Woodruff KK, Johnson AN, Lee SMC, Gernhardt ML, Schneider SM, Foster PP: A pilot study for applying an extravehicular activity exercise prebreathe Protocol to the International Space Station. NASA Technical Memo 2000-210132, 2000. 
  • Foster PP, Feiveson AH, Glowinski R, Izygon M, Boriek AM: A model for influence of exercise on formation and growth of tissue bubbles during altitude decompression. Am. J. Physiol.: Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 279:R2304-R2316, 2000. This paper about mathematical modeling the physiology of O2 and N2 transport in tissues links us to the influential mathematician Paul Erdos. We are therefore assigned a finite Erdos number of 4 since Pr. Roland Glowinski has and Erdos number of 3. ( 
  • Foster PP, Feiveson AH, Boriek AM: Predicting time to decompression illness during exercise at altitude, based on formation and growth of bubbles. Am. J. Physiol.: Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 279:R2317-R2328, 2000. 
  • Lee MCS, Moore AD, Fritsch-Yelle JM, Greenisen M, Schneider SM, Foster PP. Effect of in-flight exercise and extravehicular activity on postflight stand tests. NASA Technical Memo 2000-210185, 2000. 
  • Foster PP, Conkin J, Waligora JM, Powell MR, Chhikara RS: Role of metabolic gases in bubble formation during hypobaric exposures. J. Appl. Physiol., 84(3):1088-1095, 1998. 
  • Conkin J, Foster PP, Powell MR: Evolved gas, pain, the power law, and probability of hypobaric decompression sickness. Aviat. Space Environ. Med., 69:352-359, 1998. 
  • Conkin J, Powell MR, Foster PP, Waligora JM: Information about circulating microbubbles improves prediction of hypobaric decompression sickness. Aviat. Space Environ. Med., 69:8-16, 1998. 
  • Conkin J, Foster PP, Powell MR, Waligora JM: Relationship of the time course of venous gas bubbles to altitude decompression sickness. Undersea Hyperbaric Med., 23:141-49, 1996. 
  • Conkin J, Kumar KV, Powell MR, Foster PP, Waligora JM: A probability model of hypobaric decompression sickness based on 66 chamber tests. Aviat. Space Environ. Med., 67:176-83, 1996. 


  • Foster PP: SCUBA Diving. Physiological Adaptations of the Body and Ensuing Limits. ("La plongee sous-marine a l'air. L'adaptation de l'organismDr. Philip P. Foster Published Bookse et ses limites.") PUG (Presses Universitaires de Grenoble) in 1993, EDP (Edition Diffusion Presse Science, Paris).[Textbook published in Belgium, Canada, France, and Switzerland. Approved by the “Commission Nationale Française de Médecine de la Plongée” (1994). Official textbook of “Fédération Française de Sports et d’Etudes Sous-Marins” (1997). Support from “Société Savante de Médecine de la Plongée” (1997). Rouquayrol et Denayrouze Award (1998).]. Sales success in bookstores & Amazon. 
  • Foster PP, Boriek AM, Butler BD, Gernhardt ML, Bové AA:Patent Foramen Ovale and Paradoxical Systemic Embolism: a Bibliographic Review. Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 74(6, Suppl.):B1-B64, 2003.[Supplement. Exhaustive work on Paradoxical Embolism of Gas and Thrombi, 64 pages.]