World Extreme Medicine News

We are honoured to have JD Polk join us at this year’s World Extreme Medicine Conference. As the Chief Health and Medical Officer of NASA, located at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C he wears multiple hats at the space agency, which makes him the perfect speaker to discuss and understand how important medicine in the extremes can be to future exploration.

Having received his degree in Osteopathic Medicine from the A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Missouri, JD Polk then went on to complete his residency in emergency medicine with the Mt. Sinai hospitals via Ohio University. He also completed his training in aerospace medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch. As well as being board certified in both emergency medicine and aerospace medicine. JD Polk holds a Master in Science in Space Studies from the American Military University, a Master in Medical Management from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, and a Masters Certificate in Public Health from the University of New England.

As a highly distinguished medic, JD Polk is well published in the fields of emergency medicine, disaster medicine, space medicine, and medical management. He has received numerous awards and commendations including citations from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, White House Medical Unit, Association of Air Medical Services, U.S. Air Force, and has received the NASA Center Director’s Commendation, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the National Security and International Affairs Medal and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.

JD Polk came up through the space programme, starting as one of the Rescue Forces, known as ‘air docs’, the doctors who fly on the search and rescue helicopters and then worked his way up almost through every position they had in medical at NASA. Positions he held included the rank and file Flight Surgeon going back and forth to Russia, the Chief of Medical Operations, the Chief of the Space Medicine Division, the deputy Chief Medical Officer at Johnsons Space Center and then in November 2016 JD Polk became NASA’s Chief Health and Medical Officer.

It’s a position that sees JD Polk provide oversight, policy direction and guidance to the medical and occupational care of all NASA employees – including its astronauts. He is also the health and medical technical authority for the agency, overseeing a team that serves as experts on the health specifications for vehicle development at NASA.

Throughout his career at NASA JD Polk has overseen 25 missions in different functions, between space shuttle launches, Soyuz launches, rescue surgeon for 5 different launches and landings and then the most recent NASA SpaceX Dragon launch, a historical moment which saw the first commercially built and operated spacecraft fly to the International Space Station.

As an energising and inspiring speaker, we can’t wait to welcome JD Polk to the conference.

Here is what JD Polk, had to say after speaking at the 2019 World Extreme Medicine Conference:

JD Polk, NASA Chief Medical Officer


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