Dr. Bernard Harris

Keynote Speaker

Bernard A. Harris Jr., Astronaut and President of the Harris Foundation, holds a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology from the University of Houston, a Master of Medical Science (MMS) from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Houston Clear Lake and a Doctorate of Medicine (MD) from Texas Tech University School of Medicine. He completed a Residency in Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, a National Research Council Fellowship in Endocrinology at the NASA Ames Research Center and trained as a Flight Surgeon at the Aerospace School of Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He is also a licensed private pilot and certified scuba diver.

He holds several faculty appointments including, Associate Professor in Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch and Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Additionally, he is the author and co-author of numerous scientific publications.

Dr. Harris was at NASA for ten years, where he conducted research in musculoskeletal physiology and disuse osteoporosis. He conducted clinical investigations of space adaptation and developed in-flight medical devices to extend Astronaut stays in space. Selected into the Astronaut Corp in January 1990, Dr. Harris was a Mission Specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-55/Spacelab D-2 in 1993. As Payload Commander on Space Shuttle Discovery STS-63 in 1995, he served on the first flight of the joint Russian-American Space Program, becoming the “First African American to walk in Space”. A veteran astronaut for over twenty years, he has logged more than 438 hours and traveled over 7.2 million miles in space.

He was a Senior Consultant for NASA Aerospace Safety Panel, Member of the NASA Biological and Physical Sciences Committee, Council for the National Institute Health/National Institute for Deafness, Texas Tech University Board of Regents, Texas Higher Education Coalition Texas Commission on a Representative Student Body and Communications Disorders and committee for the National Academies Institute of Medicine.

Currently, he is a member of the Board of Directors of some of the leading companies in America: U.S. Physical Therapy (Nasdaq: USPH), E-Cardio, Monebo Technologies, American Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery (AIMIS) and the Space Agency. Also, Dr. Harris serves as a Director of a number of investment funds, including The Endowment Fund, Salient Absolute Return Fund/MLP & Energy Infrastructure Fund/MF Trust; and Board of Trustees of Babson Capital Global Short Duration High Yield Fund. In addition, he is on the Board for the Houston Technology Center, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Board of Scientific Counselors and the National Math and Science Initiative.

Dr. Harris is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of Vesalius Ventures, Inc., a venture capital firm, that invest in early to mid stage Healthcare technologies and companies. He is also the Founder of the Harris Foundation and the Harris Institute, non-profit organizations that support math/science education and crime prevention programs for America’s youth.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from Stony Brook University (SUNY), Morehouse School of Medicine, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and University of Hartford, NASA Space Flight Medal, NASA Award of Merit, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and was the recipient of the 2000 Horatio Alger Award. He is the author of “Dream Walker: A Journey of Achievement and Inspiration.”
Dr. Harris’s goals in life have been achieved through self-empowerment and self-determination. He believes that education and effort will allow anyone to meet any challenge in life, inspiring others to reach for the stars.