Research on Board the ISS

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) both within NIH, received a series of project awards stemming from an NIH funding opportunity posted on https://grants.nih,gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-TR-18-001.html in 2017 to research human physiology and disease.

The research will involve studying organs-on-chips to help develop and advance novel technologies to improve human health. Recent advances in bioengineering have made it possible to manufacture micro-physiological systems using human cells on chips representing functional units of an organ which replicates the physical and biochemical environment in tissues.

In parallel, recent developments in stem cell technology now makes it possible to cultivate tissues from humans with specific genotypes and/or disease phenotypes. Advancing this research on the ISS promises to accelerate the discovery of molecular mechanisms that underlie a range of common human disorders. Also, it will be possible to improve the understanding of therapeutic targets and treatments in a microgravity environment.

Go to for information on NCATS research. Research includes studying the effects of space on human physiology, effects of microgravity on drug responses using engineered heart tissues, research on the effects of microgravity on muscle wasting, and the role of microgravity on the structure and physiological function of 3D human cardiac tissue.

NCATS and NIBIB will provide two years of initial funding of about $5 million to use tissue chip technology for translational research. If the research is successful during the first two years, the selected concepts will be able to receive an additional two years of funding to conduct a second set of experiments onboard the ISS.

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