In an effort to study the effects of space travel on human health, a Hardy Diagnostics product is on an expedition to the International Space Station. The NASA microbiome experiment, sponsored by the J. Craig Venter Institute, is studying the changes that occur in microbes in and on the body during a space mission. A microbiome is the entire array of living microorganisms in a particular environment. Researchers hope to understand whether these changes in space will result in health risks for astronauts.

Astronauts will use the Hardy Diagnostics’ products to sample the microbiome in and on their own bodies as well as the microbiome of the surfaces within the International Space Station. These samples will be compared to samples taken under normal conditions before the mission began. The study will also monitor astronauts’ stress levels, immune system, perspiration, blood and gastrointestinal samples. Even the astronauts’ sleeping areas, exercise areas, and water and air supplies will be swabbed and tested for microorganisms.

“We are proud to serve the men and woman exploring space,” said Jay Hardy, president of Santa Maria-based Hardy Diagnostics. “Any knowledge gained that will improve their safety is very rewarding for all of us.”

Those on Earth living in extreme environments will also stand to benefit from the results of the NASA mission using Hardy’s sampling devices.

Hardy Diagnostics is an FDA-licensed and ISO 13485-certified manufacturer of medical devices for microbiological procedures in both clinical and industrial laboratories. Hardy Diagnostics was founded in 1980 in Santa Barbara by Jay Hardy and Robert Shibata after they completed their medical technology training in the laboratory at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Hardy Diagnostics manufactures more than 4,200 different products for the culture and identification of bacteria and fungi. Among its offerings are products used to culture and detect pathogens commonly reported in the news, such as E. coli, salmonella, listeria, MRSA and influenza. In addition, the company manufactures reagents and media for use by molecular biology researchers. More than 8,000 laboratories throughout the nation rely on Hardy Diagnostics for their supplies.

Today, Hardy Diagnostics employs more than 200 workers and maintains eight distribution centers throughout the United States. Manufacturing takes place at its headquarters in Santa Maria and at a new facility in Springboro, Ohio. The company also exports products through more than 40 foreign distributors. The company’s mission is to “partner with its laboratory customers to prevent and diagnose disease.”

— Karissa Tucker represents Hardy Diagnostics.