Hospital Dedicates Auditorium to Columbia Astronaut

Story Number: NNS030714-03Release Date: 7/14/2003 9:35:00 AM
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By Journalist 1st Class (SW/AW) AnTuan Guerry, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- The National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) honored one of Navy Medicine's own in a ceremony July 11, officially dedicating NNMC's Laurel Clark Memorial Auditorium.

Capt. Clark, who attended NNMC's Pediatrics postgraduate program 1987-1988, was one of seven astronauts who perished aboard the space shuttle Columbia last February.

In dedicating the auditorium in her name, NNMC salutes and celebrates the memory of Clark, and the courage she demonstrated to Navy Medicine and the NASA Space program.

In attendance at the ceremony were Clark's husband, retired Capt. Jon Clark and son, Iain; Sean O' Keefe, NASA administrator; Capt. Lee Morin, NASA spokesperson; and Rear Adm. Donald Arthur, commander NNMC.

Although, Clark's first voyage into space was, tragically, her only mission, she was an extremely accomplished and experienced naval flight surgeon.

Clark's primary mission aboard space shuttle Columbia during flight mission STS-107 was to conduct research experiments including protein crystal growth in orbit and gene transformation. The crew hoped these studies would lead to new medical countermeasures against various viruses.

In addition, Clark and other members of the Columbia crew were working on a study that involved observing the different effects of gravity on osteocytes (bone cells). The project was designed to teach medical scientists more about osteoporosis, a disorder in which a person's bones lose density and become weak or brittle.

On display in the newly designed auditorium are some of Clark's personal artifacts, including a flight suit, uniform jacket, pair of boots, patch from the flight mission, flight manual and Pediatrics staff photo taken when Clark studied at NNMC in 1987.

One of the more highly anticipated centerpieces, a photographic portrait of Clark depicting her life and many achievements, was also unveiled during today's ceremony. Renowned photographic portraitist, William McIntosh created the artwork. McIntosh has been featured at many prestigious exhibitions and museums all over America.

Clark was born in Iowa, but called Racine, Wisc., home. She graduated from William Horlick High School in 1979; received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983 and a doctorate of medicine in 1987.

Clark was selected for the NASA space program in 1996.

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Capt. Jon Clark, USN Ret., and Rear Adm. Donald Arthur, Commander National Naval Medical Center (NNMC), applaud a portrait of Capt. Laural Clark taken by Bill McIntosh
030711-N-2439G-001 National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, Md. (Jul. 11, 2003) -- Capt. Jon Clark, USN Ret., and Rear Adm. Donald Arthur, Commander National Naval Medical Center (NNMC), applaud a portrait of Capt. Laurel Clark taken by Bill McIntosh. The portrait was unveiled at a dedication ceremony held at the National Naval Medical Center's new Laurel Clark Memorial Auditorium. Capt. Laurel Clark was one of the seven astronauts that lost their lives last February aboard the Columbia space shuttle. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class AnTuan Guerry. (RELEASED)
July 14, 2003
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