David Wolf, M.D.

David Wolf, as a medical doctor, electrical engineer, a veteran astronaut, and inventor (17 patents), has directed his broad experience to bring novel technologies to operational readiness.  He is known for leading multidisciplinary teams in bringing novel, advanced technologies to operational deployment.  As a pioneer in medical ultrasonic imaging, Dr. Wolf applied digital image and signal processing methods to drive advancements now found in modern medical ultrasonics, and was chosen by NASA to construct the first cardiac ultrasound system utilized in Space.

He now leads Spektron Systems as founder and Chief Medical Officer providing strategy and oversight to the company.

Dr. Wolf is a versatile and dynamic leader of cutting edge multidisciplinary teams, currently directed towards inspiring young people, educators, and families to STEM disciplines. His experience at NASA spans the fields of Tissue Engineering, Bioengineering, Space Medicine, and as an Astronaut. His 168 days in space, over 4 missions, include long duration (Shuttle-MIR), Spacelab (SLS-2), and Extravehicular Activity (7 spacewalks), including serving as Chief of the Astronaut Office EVA Branch during much of ISS assembly. He specializes in combining broad experience in engineering, biological sciences, medicine, and aeronautics to achieve innovative results. A particular strength lies in precise communications across traditional technical and cultural boundaries including Russian fluency. As an active independent consultant primarily in biotechnology and engineering, he is well known for eliciting the strengths of team members, optimizing team dynamics, and fostering professional development. As a senior Astronaut, Dr. Wolf was called upon to apply a broad experience base to enhance interactions between multiple organizations, both within NASA and externally, as well as providing technical direction and strategic planning. In trust of large public assets, he is respected for precise judgment. Dr. Wolf’s chosen areas of work are those directed at the improvement of the quality of life on Earth

He is a charter member and on the board of regents, of the aesthetic stem cell society which now represents multiple medical specialties to the FDA with the common goal of attaining an approval pathway for safe and effective deployment of this emerging medical advancement. 

He received the Texas State Bar “patent of the year,” was recognized as NASA “inventor of the year,” and received the NASA “Exceptional Engineering Achievement medal” before being inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame. 

He is also is a professor of biomedical and aerospace engineering at Purdue University, and advises the Vice President of the United States via the National Space Council.

Positions and Employment

  • Founder – Chief Medical Officer – Spektron Systems – 2014 – Present
  • NASA Astronaut 1991 – 2012
  • Chief Scientist, NASA/JSC Biotechnology Program 2011 – 2012
  • Space Biotechnology Program Manager, Johnson Space Center, 1986 – 1990
  • Chief Engineer, Space Station Health Maintenance Facility Program, 1984 – 1986
  • Senior Research Engineer, NASA JSC, Cardiovascular Research Branch 1983 – 1984
  • Ultrasonic Imaging and Signal Processing Engineer, I.U. Medical Center 1980 – 1983
  • Research Assistant, Purdue U., Clinical Engineering Dept. 1975 – 1978

Selected Publications

TG Hammond,E Benes,KC O'Reilly,DA Wolf,RM Linnehan,A Taher, JH Kaysen, PL Allen, & TJ Goodwin; “Mechanical culture conditions effect gene expression,”, American Journal of Physiology: Physiological Genomics 3:163-173 (2000).

Yow-Min D. Tsao, Ernest Boyd, David A. Wolf, Glenn Spaulding; "Fluid Dynamics Within a Rotating Bioreactor in Space and Earth Environments," Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, volume 31,number 6,pgs 937-943,Nov-Dec 1994

T.J. Goodwin, T.L. Prewett, D.A. Wolf, and G.F. Spalding,"Reduced Shear Stress: A Major Component in the Ability of Human Cells to Form 3-dimensional assemblies in Simulated Microgravity," Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, 51:301-311, 1993

Y.D. Tsao, E. Boyd, G. Spalding, D.A. Wolf; "Numerical Simulation of a Rotating Bioreactor's Flow Field and Particle Motion in Unit Gravity and Microgravity,"Biotechnology and Bioengineering, (submitted)

Goodwin, T.J., W.F. Schroeder, D.A. Wolf, and M.P. Moyer; "Coculture of Normal Human Small Intestine Cells in a Rotating-Wall Vessel Culture System," Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Vol. 202, Feb. 1993

Thomas J. Goodwin, William F. Schroeder, David A. Wolf, Mary Pat Moyer; "Rotating-Wall Vessel Coculture of Small Intestine as a Prelude to Tissue Modeling: Aspects of Simulated Microgravity," Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Vol 202, Feb. 1993

Tsao, Y.D., T.J. Goodwin, D.A. Wolf, and G.F. Spalding,"Responses of Gravity Level Variations on the NASA/JSC Bioreactor System," The Physiologist 35:1, (5)49- (5)50, February 1992

Ray P. Schwarz, Thomas J. Goodwin, David A. Wolf; "Cell Culture for Three-Dimensional Modeling in Rotating-Wall Vessels: An Applications of Simulated Microgravity," Journal of Tissue Culture Methods, 14:2 51-58, April 1992

Thomas J. Goodwin, J. Milburn Jessup, David A. Wolf; "Morphological Differentiation of Colon Carcinoma Cell Lines HT-29 and HT-29KM in Rotating-Wall Vessels," In-Vitro Cellular and Dev. Biology 28A 47-60, Jan. 1992

Wolf, D. A., and R. P. Schwartz, “Analysis of gravity-induced particle motion and fluid perfusion flow in the NASA-designed rotating zero-head-space tissue culture vessel,” NASA Technical Paper 3143, 1991, NASA, Washington, D.C.
Wolf, D. A., and R. P. Schwartz, “Experimental measurement of orbital paths of particles sedimenting within a rotating viscous fluid as influenced by gravity,” NASA Technical Paper 3200, 1992, NASA, Washington, D.C.

M.W. Bungo, J.B. Charles, D.A. Wolf, D.E. Houston; "Echocardiographic Evaluation of Cardiac Structure and Function in Man During Orbital
Space Flight," Journal of the American College of Cardiology, TBD issue
(in preparation)

M.L. Lewis, W.H. Bowie, R.P. Schwarz, J.H. Cross, C.D. Anderson,
and D.A. Wolf; "Growth and Maintenance of Anchorage Dependent Cells
in Zero Headspace Bioreactor Systems Designed for Microgravity,"
Proceedings of the First Canadian Workshop On R+D Opportunities on
Board the Space Station, May 6-8 1987, Ottowa, Canada

David Wolf, Phil Johnson, "Using the NASA Space Bioreactor for Cell Culture
in Microgravity," Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, March 1986

Bungo MW, Charles JB, Riddle J, Roesch J, Wolf DA, Seddon MR "Echocardiographic Investigation of the Hemodynamics of Weightlessness," Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol. 7 #2:192A, February 1986.

D.A. Wolf, B.M. Levitan, K.W. Roberts, and J.M. Turner, "American Flight Echocardiograph," Proceedings of the 37th meeting of the IEEE American
College of Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Los Angeles,
California, September 17-19, 1984

NASA Biography

PERSONAL DATA: Born August 23, 1956, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He enjoys sport aerobatic flying, scuba diving, handball, running and water skiing. His parents, Dr. and Mrs. Harry Wolf, reside in Indianapolis.

EDUCATION: Graduated from North Central High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1974; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1978, and received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Indiana University in 1982. He completed his medical internship in 1983 at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, and United States Air Force flight surgeon training at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Wolf has completed both U.S. astronaut and Russian cosmonaut training.

SPECIAL HONORS: Recipient of the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, 1990, and was NASA Inventor of the Year, 1992. Dr. Wolf graduated “with distinction” from the honors curriculum in Electrical Engineering at Purdue University and received an Academic Achievement Award upon graduation from Indiana University Medical School (combined research program). He is a Purdue “Distinguished Engineering Alumnus.” He received the Carl R. Ruddell scholarship award for research in medical ultrasonic digital signal and image processing. He is a member of Eta Kappa Knu and Phi Eta Sigma honorary societies. Dr. Wolf has received 16 U.S. patents, published more than 40 technical publications or papers, and received more than 20 Space Act Awards, primarily for 3-D tissue engineering technologies for which he received the Texas State Bar Patent of the Year in 1994. Dr. Wolf has received an additional honorary Doctorate from Indiana University and four Spaceflight Medals.

EXPERIENCE: As a research scientist at the Indianapolis Center for Advanced Research from 1980 to 1983, Dr. Wolf established himself as a pioneer in the development of modern medical ultrasonic image processing techniques. This technology applied pulse compression digital RF pulse echo signal processing to improve image resolution and enable target parameter extraction, techniques now used by most commercial systems. He also developed novel Doppler demodulation techniques, extending the range velocity product limitations inherent to conventional pulsed Doppler systems. He served as a USAF senior flight surgeon in the Air National Guard (1983 to 2004), achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel. He has logged more than 2,000 hours of flight time, including air combat training as a weapons systems officer (F4 Phantom jet), T-38 Talon and competition sport aerobatics (Christen Eagle).

NASA EXPERIENCE: Dr. Wolf served as chief of the Astronaut Office Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Branch for much of the International Space Station (ISS) assembly. He led a team responsible for the development, test and execution of spacewalks from the ISS and space shuttle. This team plays a critical role for ISS assembly, maintenance and repair; requiring innovations to extend EVA capability in the areas of hardware, techniques and human performance. Dr. Wolf has logged 168 days, 12 hours, 56 minutes and 04 seconds in space over four separate missions, including a long-duration mission (128 days) on the Russian MIR space station, which was trained and conducted completely in the Russian language. He has conducted a total of seven spacewalks, using both the American and Russian spacesuits, and has logged 47 hours and 05 minutes of extravehicular activity. He is an active public speaker and is called on to represent NASA in a wide variety of venues to communicate the experience and importance of human space flight.

Selected as a NASA astronaut in January 1990, Dr. Wolf became qualified for space flight in July 1991. His technical assignments have included orbiter vehicle processing and testing at Kennedy Space Center (1991 to 1992) and spacecraft communications (CAPCOM, 1994 to 1995) on console for the first and third shuttle-MIR rendezvous and docking. He is a senior EVA (spacewalk) instructor and has qualified with the shuttle robotic manipulator system (robot arm). Dr. Wolf completed cosmonaut training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Star City, Russia. In December 2012, Dr. Wolf retired from NASA. He now works as a private consultant, serves as Extraordinary Scientist in Residence for the Indianapolis Children’s Museum (the largest of its kind), and is an active public and motivational speaker

In 1983, Dr. Wolf joined the Medical Sciences Division, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. He was responsible for the development of the American Flight Echocardiograph, which is used in space for investigating cardiovascular physiology in microgravity. This work required synthesis of spacecraft avionics integration, human physiology and space operations to acquire fundamental cardiovascular data for human space exploration and reveal new Earth-based physiological principles. On completion, he was assigned as Chief Engineer for design of the Space Station Medical Facility, now operational on orbit. This work pioneered concepts in telemedicine, medical informatics and bioinstrumentation. In 1986, he became Chief Engineer (and, later, Program Manager) of the “Space Bioreactor,” a biotechnology-based tissue engineering and cancer research program. This team, under Dr. Wolf’s leadership, achieved the development of state of the art tissue engineering systems now widely used for both commercial and research purposes on Earth. Dr. Wolf fostered the successful technology transfer to private industry and to academic laboratory applications. Special skills developed include real-time computer process control, communications, power systems, bioprocessing, fluid dynamics, aerospace physiology and aerospace medicine. In these roles, Dr. Wolf was responsible for technical and multidisciplinary team leadership, a multimillion dollar budget, systems design, safety (electrical and biological) and spacecraft integration. This “on schedule” program is now a core biotechnology research facility on the ISS.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-58 Columbia (October 16 to November 1, 1993) was a dedicated Spacelab life sciences research mission. The crew conducted neurovestibular, cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, metabolic, and musculoskeletal research, using microgravity to reveal fundamental human physiology otherwise masked by Earth’s gravity. The mission duration was 14 days, 12 minutes and 32 seconds, a record at that time.

NASA-MIR 6 (Sept 25, 1997 to Jan 31, 1998). This sixth mission of the joint shuttle-MIR long-duration space flight program, immediately following “the” fire and collision, and recovering from multiple total power failures, played a core role to establish the international relationships serving the foundation of the current ISS Program. Dr. Wolf performed cosmonaut engineering and scientific duties on the Russian MIR space station, including 9 EVA hours in the Russian ORLAN spacesuit. The mission duration was 128 days. Wolf launched on STS-86 and returned on STS-89.

STS-112 Atlantis (October 7 to October 18, 2002) and STS-127 Endeavor (July 15 to July 31, 2009). These missions were on-orbit heavy ISS assembly missions by EVA and Robotics, including the S1 truss, Japanese Exposed Facility (JEF), P6 battery changeouts and multiple large external equipment installations. The missions provided critical ISS spacecraft communications, thermal control and power management systems. Wolf’s primary duties were as lead spacewalker (EV1) and rendezvous navigation specialist. He performed a total of 6 spacewalks: 19 hours and 41 minutes of EVA on STS-112; 18 hours and 24 minutes of EVA on STS-127. STS-112 mission duration was 10 days, 19 hours and 58 minutes; and STS-12 mission duration was 15 days, 16 hours, 44 minutes and 58 seconds