Kennedy Space Center, FL (July 12, 2016) — The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have established a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) to fund research into human physiology and disease on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Data from this research — which will feature “Tissue Chips” (or “organs-on-chips”) — will help scientists develop and advance novel technologies to improve human health.
Yesterday, NCATS released a Notice of Intent to Publish an NIH Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications through its Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program for research on microphysiological systems using the ISS National Lab. The intent of the notice is to enable potential applicants sufficient time to gather important technical information, and to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects. The FOA will be released in late summer 2016 and have an application due date in early 2017.
CASIS is the nonprofit organization responsible for managing and promoting research onboard the ISS National Lab. NCATS was officially established in fiscal year 2012 to transform the translational science process so that more treatments and cures for disease can be delivered to more patients more quickly. Through this partnership, CASIS will facilitate on-orbit access to the ISS National Lab, and NCATS will fund the selected projects to advance fundamental science and engineering knowledge. CASIS and NCATS hope to encourage investigators with expertise in materials science, microfabrication, microfluidics, universal media, stem cell technology, tissue engineering, disease modeling, and developing spaceflight experiments for the ISS National Lab to consider applying for funding.
Advancements in bioengineering have enabled the manufacture of microphysiological systems representing functional units of an organ, which replicate the physical and biochemical environment in tissues. In parallel, recent developments in stem cell technology now make it possible to cultivate tissues from humans with specific genotypes and/or disease phenotypes. Advancing this research with the ISS National Lab could accelerate the discovery of molecular mechanisms that underlie a range of common human disorders, as well as improve understanding of therapeutic targets and treatments in a reduced fluid shear, microgravity environment that recapitulates cellular and tissue matrices on Earth. This partnership comes on the heels of a recent CASIS award announcement focused on organs-on-chips research.
To learn more about the on-orbit capabilities of the ISS National Lab, including past research initiatives and available facilities, visit www.spacestationresearch.com. To learn more about this impending funding opportunity, please visit: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-TR-16-018.html
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About CASIS: The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information, visit www.iss-casis.org.
About the ISS National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, vantage point in low Earth orbit, and varied environments of space.
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